Page last updated at 10:31 GMT, Friday, 9 April 2010 11:31 UK

Russia honours 'legendary' diplomat Anatoly Dobrynin

Anatoly Dobrynin and his wife wave before leaving Andrews air force base in the US, 1 April 2010
Dobrynin left Washington in 1986 after 24 years as ambassador

Russian leaders have paid tribute to Anatoly Dobrynin, a long-serving ambassador to the US renowned for his role in the Cuban missile crisis.

He died in Moscow on Tuesday at the age of 90.

Dobrynin was Russia's ambassador in Washington from 1962-1984, becoming a trusted intermediary between the two Cold War superpowers.

In a Kremlin statement, President Dmitry Medvedev called Dobrynin a "legend" of Russian diplomacy.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Dobrynin's career was a "a paragon of dedicated service to the Fatherland".

'US saddened'

The 1962 Cuban missile crisis came in Dobrynin's first year as ambassador. It erupted when US spy planes took pictures of nuclear missiles being installed in the Caribbean island of Cuba.

Dobrynin was credited with helping defuse tension by establishing a back-channel with Robert Kennedy, US attorney general and brother of then-President John F Kennedy.

In a letter to Dobrynin's family Mr Medvedev made reference to the event.

"It is impossible to overestimate Anatoly Fyodorovich's personal contribution to the solution of the Caribbean crisis and the normalisation of Soviet-US relations," he said.

The US Department of State said it was "saddened" by Dobrynin's death and paid tribute to his efforts to "stabilise" Soviet-US relations.

In his memoirs Dobrynin described being plucked from the obscurity of a job as an engineer in an aircraft factory to be trained as a diplomat in 1944.

He was sent to Washington as ambassador at the relatively young age of 43.

He was renowned for his charm and beautiful command of English and he developed a particularly close friendship with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Mr Kissinger later described him as a subtle diplomat who moved through the upper echelons of Washington life with consummate skill.

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