Remembering Ambassador Churkin (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)
Work in New York, at a mission to the United Nations differs a lot from any Embassy. Especially so for a mission of a nation-permanent member of the Security Council. The last ten years, when Vitaly Churkin represented Russia at the UN, undoubtedly where the most busy and strenuous, given the War in Iraq, intervention in Libya, the crises in Syria and Ukraine. On all these issues there were serious differences between major powers, which increased demand for multilateral diplomacy. On many occasions those were non-stop, marathon sessions aimed at reaching consensus, finding some common ground as a basis for international action.
All of it required an experienced diplomat and a bright personality at the head of our mission, which Vitaly Churkin was. Of course, he acted on the instructions from Moscow, but he defended Russia’s position with intelligence and eloquence that gained him respect, even if sometimes it wasn’t enough to bridge the differences. This is made abundantly clear by the international response to his passing away, including on the part of his colleagues in New York.
He was one the best representatives of his generation in Russia’s diplomatic service. He always spoke up, never minced words. He was one of the first Russian diplomats, who defied orthodox convention of speaking stale bureaucratese and, thus, helped make diplomacy human and accessible to all.
In fact, it was his generation, that took upon themselves the responsibility for new Russia, and he rightfully became one of many faces of our country and its diplomacy. His work and personality explains why his generation with a broad view of things, not constrained by any ideology or dogma, was able to reestablish continuity in our history and diplomatic tradition, well in line with the imperatives of our time.