March 6th, 2009
04:17 PM ET
2 years ago

Clinton 'reset button' gift to Russian FM gets lost in translation

A little misunderstanding over a big red button.
A little misunderstanding over a big red button.

(CNN) - When it comes to Russia, the Obama administration has been talking about “pressing the reset button.” It’s meant to symbolize a possible new start in U.S./Russian relations, which “crashed” after Russia invaded Georgia last August.

So when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greeted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva Friday before sitting down to their working dinner, she was all smiles when she presented him a small green box with a ribbon.

Lavrov opened it and, inside, there was a red button with the Russian word “peregruzka” printed on it.

"I would like to present you with a little gift that represents what President Obama and Vice President Biden and I have been saying and that is: 'We want to reset our relationship, and so we will do it together.' ...

"We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?" she asked Lavrov, laughing.

“You got it wrong," said Lavrov, as both diplomats laughed.

“It should be “perezagruzka” [the Russian word for reset]," said Lavrov."This says ‘peregruzka,’ which means ‘overcharged.’”

A quick comeback – and recovery – from Clinton: "We won't let you do that to us, I promise. We mean it and we look forward to it."

Ever the diplomat, Lavrov says he’ll put the “reset” button on his desk.

A few minutes later, Clinton senior adviser Philippe Reines sent an e-mail message to reporters covering the Secretary of State.

“Since we're all learning a little Russian today, ‘opechatka’ is Russian for ‘typo,'” he wrote. “So the *Opechatka* is being fixed, the gift will correctly read ‘Perezagruzka’ by the time of the joint press conference. If any of you travel with labelmaking devices equipped with Russian spell-check, please do let me know...”


Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (164 Responses)
  1. Kyle

    Wow, good to know we got a bunch of detail oriented idiots running the show

    March 6, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  2. lt

    guess that's our foreign policy...speak first, whoops, then reset. nothing changes....just the party

    March 6, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  3. Matt

    What is more a joke this week. Baracks insult to our greatest allies, the joke he looked like with his love note for Russia. The collection of DVD's for Brown, Hillary's maniacal laugh or this stupidity. They thought Bush was an idiot Obama has set the bar even lower this week.

    March 6, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  4. EDDIE

    That's Funny.

    March 6, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  5. AndyL

    If this had been a Bush gaffe, the democrats would have been all over this. Obamorons will certainly gloss this over.

    March 6, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  6. Alex Badme, Albuquerque, NM

    OMG. Their staff cant even translate the one word they present. Hope they don't mix up something important. The error people are back....Can't even blame Monica for distracting the White House for this error.

    March 6, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  7. Rita

    Cute

    March 6, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  8. Kevin in Ohio

    Oh....... MY....... GAWD.....................!!!!!!!!!! The idiocy and incompetence of this administration is absolutely amazing.

    March 6, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  9. MARYANN ILLINOIS

    Hillary has proven herself time and time again what a great leader she is...the whole world loves the CLINTONS...they will get AMERICA back on track.....

    March 6, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  10. inuk of the north

    The button that said 'supercharged' was at Monica's place.

    March 6, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  11. Jerry

    That was an aweome joke.... should have checked it twice anyways... but to start a conversation with laughter is equally important... so it is a win win situation, I say

    March 6, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  12. Al

    Clinton does and will continue to do a reasonably good job as long as she is in tune with Obama.

    March 6, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  13. Zac

    hehehe. good to see hillary can get chummy with her counterparts worldwide.

    March 6, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  14. Krystal in AZ

    Haha! I think that's hilarious, given our former President's way with words! How ironic. But you know what? Humor is a great diplomat, and with all the seriousness of our situation with Russia, I think that this humanizes both sides! We are all one people sharing this Earth, and we have as much in common with eachother as we don't. God given free will in all peoples of this world will lead to conflct and disagreement, but God also gave us the ability to identify with eachother, and to work through those conflicts and disagreements. Thank you, humor!

    March 6, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  15. caywen

    In Soviet Russia, the reset button overcharges YOU.

    March 6, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  16. texas teacher

    "Reset button?" "Lost in translation"? Boy, am I EVER spitting up in my mouth. (Just saying.)

    March 6, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  17. John

    This was an idiotic gift esp. given the connotations of the big red button with nuclear war.

    March 6, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  18. Bob

    Maybe it was intentional?

    March 6, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  19. dax

    too funny

    March 6, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  20. Meka

    NICE PHOTO!

    March 6, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  21. Earl Jackson

    While they are fixing the typo – how about writing the word in Cyrillic instead of romanization?

    March 6, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  22. dax

    Why are my comments never posted on this site? I'm begining to think the neo cons might be right about this network.

    March 6, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  23. Linda in MS

    Before all the hatefilled anti- Hillary remarks begin, let me first point out that Pres. Bush had a marker engraved to commemorate Katrina that was placed in Jackson Square. There were at least two or three misspelled words on it, and it wasn't even in Russian ( no translation required). Of course I know the President wasn't the one who engraved the stone, so I'm not blaming him. Before you start on Hillary, think about that, please.

    March 6, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  24. Jon in CA

    OOPs... yes the "over-charge" button belongs back in DC where Obama and his Democrats push it daily.

    Good lord – is THIS what our foreign policy has come to?? Gimmicks?? Oh and I'm sure our once solid allies in the region (Georgia, Poland, Ukraine, etc) just LOVE seeing Obama/Hillary bending over to accommodate Russia.

    Yeah...we'll just forget about that little invasion incident in Georgia. Let's "start over".

    (eyes rolling)

    March 6, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  25. Griff............... on The Truth...

    Proffesional Fighters come from the Old-Ceylon. Will work for anyone.
    They are bitter since India invaded. You have to keep going back the Bigger picture. What has happened in that part of the World since 1956 etc...

    March 6, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
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