The UN Secretary-General’s press conference on Sep. 14 left a strong impression that António Guterres’s priorities do not coincide with major public concerns of these days.

The Secretary-General spoke about: floods in Pakistan; climate change, and emissions by G20 countries. He also noted that “geostrategic divides are the widest they have been since at least the Cold War” and that “conflicts and unrest continue to rage.”

Unprovoked Russian aggression against Ukraine, which is treated by most UN members as a major threat to international peace and security, was mentioned by the Secretary-General in one sentence: “The war in Ukraine is devastating a country – and dragging down the global economy.”

That’s it. Literally. Nothing else. Not a word about the indiscriminate bombing of Ukrainian cities and civilian infrastructure, about war crimes and mass loss of life … Empathy? Forget it!

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Furthermore, Mr. Guterres added salt to the wound when he revealed that the so-called “grain deal,” or “Black Sea Grain Initiative,” as he referred to it, was never about unblocking Ukraine’s ports for grain export, but, in his own words, about getting “Russian food and fertilizers to global markets.”

Mr. Guterres, who pretends to be the UN Secretary-General, also spoke about global hunger and Covid-19, about “a shocking disregard for the poorest and most vulnerable,” about “a global financial system that penalizes those with the least” and “fossil fuel corporations killing the planet to rake in the most …”

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The hypocrisy of this person has no limits and needs no further proof, notwithstanding questions from journalists which demonstrated the depth of the divide between Mr. Guterres’s perception of today’s challenges and genuine public concern.

Most of the questions from the journalists (16) were about Ukraine, including 2 about the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and 6 about the “grain deal.” Three were about Libya, two about Iran’s nuclear program, one about girls in Afghanistan, one about his decision not to attend the Queen’s funeral, and one about the possible role of the Gulf Cooperation Council “in tackling the current global crises.”

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A Portuguese-speaking journalist asked about “African countries that are constantly suffering from climate change and now also from the war in Ukraine,” and about the Security Council reform.

Mr. Guterres with visible pleasure elaborated on the threat of hunger in Africa and on Russian fertilizers. Apparently, to him, the smell of Russian ammonia overrides the smell of burnt houses and dead bodies in Ukrainian cities and towns.

In my 27 years at the UN, I saw a lot, but I never witnessed such a disgrace.

Oleksandr Matsuka, UN Secretariat staff member 1989-2016

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