Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin Passes Away at 64

Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and former Ambassador to Canada Vitaly Churkin died suddenly Monday in New York. He was 64, only one day away from his 65th birthday.

The UN diplomat succumbed to cardiac arrest at the Russian Mission. After being rushed to the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, he died. First reports state that there was no foul play in Churkin’s death.

Churkin had been a diplomat for Russia for decades. Between the years of 1998 and 2003, Churkin served as Ambassador to Canada under Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin. Since 2006, he has served as Russia’s envoy at the UN, and was considered a champion diplomat for his country. He was the longest-serving ambassador on the UN’s security council.

Since his passing, tributes to the late diplomat have been released. Associated Press reports that colleagues from around the world mourned him as “a master in their field: a passionate and effective advocate for his country; an intellectual with a doctorate in history who was also a onetime child actor with an acute wit; a formidable adversary who could remain a friend.”

President Vladimir Putin was “deeply upset” by Churkin’s passing, and praised his professionalism and diplomacy, according to spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

The Canadian Mission offered their “sincere condolences” for his passing.

In a statement, U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley said that “we did not always see things the same way, but he unquestionably advocated his country’s positions with great skill.”

In a Tweet, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said that she was “devastated,” calling him a “diplomatic maestro and deeply caring man” who did all he could to bridge U.S.-Russian differences.

British U.N. ambassador Matthew Rycroft called him “a diplomatic giant and wonderful character.”

French Ambassador Gerard Araud offered his sincere condolences, describing Churkin as “abrasive, funny and technically impeccable.”

The U.N. General Assembly held a moment of silence for Churkin, after the UN General Assembly President Peter Thomson said that Churkin’s name is going “to live on in the annals of this organization’s history,”