The Russian flag was apparently hung upside down in a conference room in Zurich ahead of the meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry. A cameraman's alertness to the gaffe reportedly prevented further embarrassment and the flag position was fixed before the dignitaries arrived.
As journalists were being led into the meeting room, a cameraman is said to have pointed out the mistake to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Glen Johnson. He was in fact not sure if the white was supposed to be on top and apparently said, "What, are you serious? You're not bulls**tting me, right?"
The tri-colour Russian flag has three equal horizontal fields with white on the top, blue in the middle and red at the bottom. In this case, red was reportedly put on top by mistake.
This is not the first time such blunders have happened between the two countries. In 2009, when Hillary Clinton was the secretary of state a 'symbolic button' presented to Lavrov at the time, was supposed to indicate a thaw in US-Russian relations but it turned out to be a similar embarrassment for the State Department staff. The staff had intended to put the word 'reset' symbolising a resetting of relations but the Russian translation for the word 'reset' was incorrect.
"You've got it wrong," Lavrov had commented back then laughing it off with a smile, pointing out that the big red button actually ended up reading "overload."
In 2010, a similar flag blunder by the US State Department officials took place when the Philippine flag was hung upside-down behind President Benigno Aquino III when leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) were meeting US President Barack Obama in New York.