Vitaly Churkin, the longest standing serving member of the UN Security Council has died. It is reported that Churkin was in the Russian embassy in New York City when he went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to the the New York Presbyterian Hospital. He was pronounced dead at around 9:30 am EST. He is the third in a series of Russian diplomats that have passed away recently.

Russia's UN Ambassador would have been 65 tomorrow

Churkin's untimely death came as a shock to many, as he was set to celebrate his 65th birthday just the next day. Churkin has been Russia's envoy since 2006, having previously served a number of different diplomatic roles.

He is considered one of Moscow's greatest champions, and a skilled diplomat. President Vladimir Putin has been made aware of the death, and according to a spokesman the president is "grieved to learn about the death of Vitaly Churkin," and that the president had held Churkin's "professionalism and diplomatic talents" in high esteem.

UN colleagues react to Churkin's death

While Churkin's actions didn't always sit well with the UN or his diplomatic colleagues, it is evident by the reaction of his colleagues that Churkin was well-respected amongst his peers. On February 20, the UN held a minute of silence in memory of the Russian ambassador. The Russian embassy in the US also called his death a "tremendous loss for Russian diplomacy" on their Twitter page.

Churkin was known for his personality, passion, wit and knowledge. US Ambassador to UN, Nikki Haley said of him, "We did not always see things the same way, but he unquestionably advocated his country's positions with great skill." Former U.S.

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Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power referred to him as a "diplomatic maestro and deeply caring man". Other countries' ambassadors also chimed in. France's ambassador to the UN, Francois Delattre, revealed that despite their differences, they had "always worked together in a spirit of mutual respect and personal friendship," while his predecessor, Gerard Araud, recalls that he was "abrasive, funny and technically impeccable."

Churkin is survived by his wife and two children.