Fake subtitles show Putin and Erdogan ‘warning America’ over Israel support

13 October 2023
What was claimed

Videos show President Putin and President Erdogan giving speeches “warning America” over support for Israel.

Our verdict

The videos use old footage that predates the recent conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip and shows subtitles that do not match what the politicians actually said.

Videos being shared online falsely claim to show Russia’s President Putin and Turkey’s President Erdogan “warn America” about its support of Israel. 

The two videos show footage of the leaders speaking in Russian and Turkish, with English subtitles. However, the footage predates recent conflict in October 2023 and the subtitles do not translate what the politicians actually said.

Misinformation can spread quickly during large-scale global events and be difficult to contain. We’ve written about multiple other false and misleading claims about recent conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip, as well as other global events including the floods in Libya, earthquake in Morocco and wildfires in Maui

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What do the videos show?

One video shows President Putin supposedly saying: “America wants to destroy Israel. As we destroy Ukraine in past. I am warning America. Russia will help Palestine and America can do nothing [sic].”

It’s being shared widely on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and TikTok, with some versions of the video also showing subtitles in Arabic. A post on X with more than one million views has the caption: “This is scary”, while another on Facebook says: “Fear of WW3”. 

A USA Today logo is visible in the top corner of some versions of the videos but the subtitles are not in the media company’s traditional colours or style. Some versions of the video feature a flashing red dot to give the impression it was recorded live.

Thousands of people have also viewed a video of President Erdogan appearing to say: “I am warning America don’t in Israel Palestine war. We are with our innocent Palestinian brother’s. We are ready to defend Palestine at any price [sic].”

This is not what the politicians said

The videos both use old footage of the politicians which predate current events in the Middle East, and show mistranslated subtitles. 

The clip of President Putin actually shows him during a meeting with the country’s ‘Council for Civil Society and Human Rights’ in December 2022, and there’s no mention of Israel or Palestine in the subtitles from USA Today or in the transcript for the whole meeting released by the Kremlin. Media reports from the time don’t mention him saying this either.

The video of President Erdogan was published by news website Middle East Eye in July 2023 with the publication’s logo appearing in the clip on social media. While he is speaking in Turkish about relations with Israel and “the Palestinian state”, the subtitles show there is no reference to America. 

How have these politicians responded to recent events?

In his first statement since the recent conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip, President Putin reportedly blamed the escalating conflict on the failure of US foreign policy in the Middle East to account for the interests of the Palestinian people.

It was reported on 10 October that President Erdogan renewed Turkey’s initial offer to act as a mediator to help de-escalate the situation. 

Full Fact has seen other examples of content falsely appearing to be genuine news publications featuring politicians and public figures, such as screenshots of fake Guardian headlines and deepfake clips of BBC presenters

These can be convincing and so it’s important to consider whether a post shows what it claims before sharing it online. We have tips on how to do this in our How to spot misleading images online and How to fact check misleading videos guides. 

Image courtesy of Presidential Executive Office of Russia

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