* Observers from 23 countries blocked from entering
* Ukraine had invited OSCE members to send monitors
* Group plans next steps after being stopped at checkpoint
WARSAW/VIENNA, March 6 Dozens of military
observers invited by Ukraine to monitor the situation in
Russian-occupied Crimea had to turn back on Thursday after
failing to get past roadblocks, the Organisation for Security
and Cooperation in Europe said.
The mission of 43 unarmed observers from 23 OSCE countries
was now heading back to the Ukrainian town of Kherson, halfway
between Odessa and the Crimean peninsula, to decide how to
proceed, the Vienna-based security organisation and democracy
"They tried two checkpoints, they didn't get through ...
Nobody attacked them, they were just not allowed to go through,"
an OSCE spokeswoman said.
The mission had aimed to defuse a tense military standoff.
Forces loyal to Moscow bloodlessly seized Crimea after Russian
ally Viktor Yanukovich was ousted as Ukrainian president last
month, and are surrounding military compounds of the Ukrainian
army and navy.
Earlier, Polish Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak had said
unidentified men in military fatigues had prevented the group
from entering Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula after travelling from
Odessa by car.
One senior Western diplomat criticised the obstacles.
"It's not surprising but it is obviously unacceptable and
it's unfortunate given the mission they were sent out to do," he