What Medvedev never said: Reuters misquotes Russian PM on ‘new world war’

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev  © Ekaterina Shtukina/
A Reuters article quoted Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as “raising the specter of a world war” in an interview to a German newspaper. The problem is – he didn’t say any such words.

The leading world news agency reported on an interview that Medvedev gave Germany's Handelsblatt newspaper on the eve of talks on Syria in Munich.

"All sides must be compelled to sit at the negotiating table, instead of unleashing a new world war," the agency quoted the head of the Russian government as saying.

The report referred to a German translation of his words, which is incorrect and implies that Russia is warning that a full-scale war between leading world powers may be ignited from the Syrian conflict.

The quote comes from the portion of the interview in which Medvedev argued against starting a foreign ground intervention against Syria, saying it would only prolong the armed conflict for years or decades to come.

Medvedev’s actual words, according to the Russian transcript on PM’s website were:

“What is necessary is to use strong measures, including those taken by Russia, by the Americans and even under certain provisions those that the Turks are trying to take, to sit at the negotiating table, instead of unleashing yet another war on Earth. We know all too well the scenarios leading to that.”

The misquotation incident is the second in February involving a senior world official and the Syrian conflict. Earlier, The Financial Times claimed that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon blamed Russia for the collapse of the Syrian peace talks.

In a letter to the FT viewed by RT, Ban’s office said that the quotes of the secretary general used in the article were “technically correct” but taken out of context and “framed in a way that attributes to him direct language that is incorrect.” In particular, author Sam Jones made it appear that Ban Ki-moon had singled out Russia and the Syrian government in describing the difficulties that the peace process is facing, which he didn’t do.

The office requested that a correction be published to accurately reflect what the Secretary-General actually said.