In the film "Mistakes not allowed. Christmas visit to Damascus," which was shown on Rossiya 1 TV channel, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu described how a secret visit of President Vladimir Putin to Syria in January 2020 was prepared.
"If you make a detailed and revealing film, it can be, on the one hand, such a very, very good textbook and manual on how to organize of this kind of work of all services without exception. On the other hand, it will be such a thriller, more than any Hollywood, and any other," Shoigu said.
Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, for his part, said that the difficulty of preparing Putin's visit to Syria was that no one could be told about the operation. According to him, initially the rumor was started that Defense Minister Shoygu was going to Damascus. As a result, when the plane with the president landed in the Syrian capital, only a few officers knew who exactly was on board.
Putin said that when he was deciding on a visit to Syria, he " was guided by the interests of the Russian state. "Practice has shown that we did absolutely the right thing," he said.
"We felt at that time that the terrorist threat from the territory of Syria was growing. So far, although professional gangs have been defeated, the threat to us comes from those territories that remain under the control of terrorists," Putin added.
During his visit to Damascus on January 7, 2020, Putin held talks with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad and visited The Omayad Mosque (Great Mosque of Damascus) and the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary, which is the oldest in the Syrian capital.