The UN has grown accustomed to tragic news. Diplomats quietly convened meetings, receiving reports of death and destruction in distant countries.
But the sensational news about the death of Russian representative in UN Vitaly Churkin like a bolt from the blue struck on the sidelines of the United Nations. Deputy press Secretary groaned, knowing this was during a daily briefing.
Death Churkin came at a time when the whole world focused its attention on the relationship between President Donald trump and the Russian government, as the phone conversations of Michael Flynn with a colleague Churkin of the Russian Embassy in Washington cost him the post of national security adviser.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who, according to eyewitnesses, was upset at the death Churkin, will have to find a replacement. The Russian office has several deputies, but this post needs a diplomatic heavyweight. The UN is a place where members are always visible and have the opportunity to become stars of the media. In the UN there are cameras everywhere, right up to the door of the Security Council, which is not in thoroughly fortified and similar to fortress embassies around the world.
Vitaly Churkin knew everything. Even if you didn’t like his politics, the man still was kind of cute. To argue with him, diplomats and reporters that Churkin scolded for their questions, he was certainly the most visible representative to the UN. The British representative to the UN Matthew Rycroft (Matthew Rycroft) told me that it was a “giant of diplomacy”.
“Ambassador Churkin had unique diplomatic skills and qualifications. It was a forceful speaker of great intelligence and wit, a man with diverse talents and interests, noted in his statement the UN Secretary-General antónio Guterres. — Although we didn’t work together, I appreciate providing me the opportunity to work with him. I will miss his deep knowledge, skills, and friendship.”
“It’s a sad day for all of us,” said Monday evening the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations Peter Thomson. “We lost one of the most respected and influential members of the UN family, he continued with a trembling voice. And I can confidently say that his name will live in the annals of this organization.”
The Secretary-General may resign after 10 years of work, and no one will notice. But Churkin? In the eyes of the UN diplomats were tears.
Of course, Churkin and his unique personal qualities will also be remembered as the man who stood on the side of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war. It Churkin vetoed numerous resolutions of the Security Council who promoted Western countries seeking to end the conflict by diplomatic means.
Churkin also firmly held the line of Moscow — not only in Syria, but the question is shot down over Eastern Ukraine plane Malaysian airlines, as well as Russia’s actions against Georgia. When reporters asked him questions about trump’s victory in the election and its consequences, they never managed to cause Churkin to the discussion.
It is a professional diplomat, had good connections in the Kremlin and never got outside of the official framework, representing their country.
There was almost no meeting on the theme of conflict, which Churkin did not remind his colleagues about the American attack on Libya to remove Muammar Gaddafi from power. According to him, this was proof that “humanitarian intervention” failed. This Churkin, unlike the rest of the 192 representatives, brought their idea is original, with a twist and with some sarcasm.
Churkin did not look like dozens of faceless men in suits who walk around the corridors of the headquarters of the United Nations. He hadn’t left from the life planned for tomorrow a meeting in Ukraine with participation of the Minister of foreign Affairs has not done without his sharp comments.
Ten years in the post at the UN is that many traditional diplomatic standards, but Russia has long used to keep its leading diplomats in the organization.
Churkin died in the period of important changes in the UN. The United States and its new representative to exert pressure on it, seeking to reduce costs and States. In addition, a new UN Secretary-General Guterres, who must somehow negotiate with the five leading States of the UN security Council, which supported his candidacy.
It was the last significant act Churkin in the Security Council. In early October, when nobody expected it, Churkin brought the full Council on meet the press and declared it adopted behind closed doors, the decision on the election of a new Secretary-General. Standing surrounded by 14 smiling representatives, Churkin proudly presented Russia as the Chairman of the security Council and stated that she put an end to months of tense waiting.
It was a rare moment of unity of the members of the Council, in which militant Russian representative for 10 years, its work often blocked his decision, not allowing the UN to really protect world peace and security.
This month I said to Churkin: “You’ve been here a while”. Under present smile Churkin smiled and said, “don’t remind me.”
The last time I was under the impression that he doesn’t look well. Someone heard that he was sick and rarely appears in public.
Unlike many other diplomats, he said after a recent meeting of the UN security Council on Ukraine to stop talking to the camera. Nikki Haley has just become the permanent representative to the UN from the trump, and they first met in the conference room in full Board.
Observers at the UN was waiting to see how will develop the relations between Churkin and Haley, especially now that trump’s relationship with Russia is constantly under the microscope. Churkin has repeatedly engaged in duels with the two previous U.S. representatives at the UN.
In December, he said Samantha Power, that she is not mother Teresa, when she criticized Russia for its actions in Ukraine. And of Churkin and former us representative Susan rice said that they behave like an old married couple. God, they argued.
Now I asked if he was “coaching” the new representative of the United States. Churkin smiled and said: “I am much more optimistic. I don’t coach”.
The press, he talked about the fact that he has one guiding principle — “never underestimate colleagues.” He often repeated this phrase. After the death Churkin briefly worked for him Haley said in a statement: “We are not always the same looked at things, but he certainly is very ably defended the position of his country.”