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The Russian Foreign Ministry has announced the shock news of the death of Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s veteran ambassador to the UN.
Churkin was just short of 65 years old.
There is no word yet of the reasons for Churkin’s death, but the task of representing Russia at the UN Security Council in the ten years since his appointment in 2006, must have been exhausting.
Suffice to say that during that period Churkin had to make Russia’s case during the Libyan and Syrian wars and the Ukrainian crisis whilst duelling continuously with Obama’s two picks for US ambassador to UN – Susan Rice and Samantha Power – both outspoken rigidly hardline American exceptionalist ideologues. It repeatedly fell to Churkin to defeat their plans in the UN Security Council whilst putting Russia’s case, something he managed to do throughout whilst remaining calm in the face of enormous provocation, and whilst holding on to his sense of humour.
Churkin like most Russian diplomats was a professional diplomat who has served continuously in the Foreign Ministry all his working life. In his time as Russia’s ambassador to the UN he gained an almost unrivalled knowledge of its procedures, which repeatedly stood him in good stead against the likes of Rice and Power. Though the Russians have an abundance of capable diplomats, they will struggle to replace him. The Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement says as much
The Russian Foreign Ministry deeply regrets to announce that Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin has died suddenly in New York on February 20, a day before of his 65th birthday. The outstanding Russian diplomat died in harness. We offer sincere condolences to the family of Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin
In Russia Churkin’s eloquence in putting Russia’s case to the UN Security Council made he popular and well known. He will be widely missed, not just in Russia but in the diplomatic world generally.