Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin Dies At 64

Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin Dies At 64
Ambassador Churkin was working in his office when he fell ill and later died, according to the Russian Mission to the United Nations.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's longtime ambassador to the United Nations, has died suddenly at the age of 64.

The Russian Mission to the U.N. says Churkin was working in his office when he fell ill and later died. An exact cause hasn't been identified yet. 

Churkin's tenure at the United Nations began in 2006, capping a diplomatic career of more than 30 years.

His strong defenses of Russia's interests, particularly on matters like the Syrian conflict, often led him to spar with the United States on the U.N. floor.

Former U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power asked Churkin, "Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin? That just creeps you out a little bit?"

Churkin retorted, "What I find very strange was the statement by the U.S. representative, who built her statement as if she was Mother Teresa. Please remember what country you're representing."

But Churkin was well-respected by his colleagues as a skilled diplomat and negotiator. His death was marked by a moment of silence during a U.N. General Assembly meeting.

General Assembly President Peter Alexander said, "We've lost one of the most respected and influential members of the U.N. family. And I can say with confidence that his name is going to live on in the annals of this organization's history."