Churkin, an acute wit and sharp repartee, a pugnacious defender of Russian policy specially with his American and Western counterparts, was considered Moscow’s great champion at the U.N. He was previously ambassador at large and earlier served as the foreign ministry spokesman. Churkin’s daughter, Anastasia Churkina is a report for RT, the state-run Russian television network. A federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that there appeared to be nothing unusual about the ambassador’s death. France’s ambassador to the United Nations, Francois Delattre called Churkin “one of the most talented diplomats I have ever met.” British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft wrote on Twitter: “Absolutely devastated to hear that my friend and colleague Vitaly Churkin has died. A diplomatic giant & wonderful character.” The Russian foreign ministry said the diplomat has died while performing his duties.