Russian President Vladimir Putin has extended his condolences to the family of Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations who died suddenly in New York on February 20, and has conferred upon the ambassador a high state honor.
On February 21, Putin posthumously awarded Churkin the Order of Courage for his "selflessness, his steadfastness, and his high professionalism."
In a statement posted on the Kremlin website late on February 20, Putin called Churkin's death a "truly irreparable loss for Russian foreign policy."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described Churkin, 64, as "a part of my life."
Lavrov recalled that both he and Churkin were appointed deputy foreign ministers in early 1990.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called Churkin "a preeminent Russian diplomat" who did much "to boost Russian-Chinese cooperation within the UN and on other platforms."
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a statement praising Churkin's "insights, skills, and friendship." Guterres noted that "for more than a decade, Ambassador Churkin was a forceful presence on the Security Council."
Churkin was appointed Russia's ambassador to the UN in April 2008.