Putin and Assad
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar Assad during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Oct. 20, 2015. Assad made a surprise visit to Moscow on Tuesday evening to thank Putin for launching air strikes against Islamist militants in Syria. Reuters/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s visit to Russia has been strongly criticized by Turkey and the United States. The White House has slammed it as a “red carpet” welcome for Assad.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz also criticized Assad for using chemical weapons against his own people. "We view the red carpet welcome for Assad, who has used chemical weapons against his own people, at odds with the stated goal by the Russians for a political transition in Syria," Reuters quoted Schultz as telling reporters on Air Force One.

Assad’s visit to Russia has also been criticized by Turkey, another opponent of the Assad regime. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Wednesday that Assad should stay put in Russia and leave his people in peace.

"We think the Syrian government has no legitimacy left and our thoughts on this subject have not changed. ... There must be a transition in Syria which secures Assad's departure," Reuters quoted Davutoglu as saying. “If only he would stay longer in Moscow so the Syrian people can be at ease, or if only he could stay there permanently and a real transition period could begin."

State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. administration was not surprised by Assad’s visit. "It's not surprising that Bashar al-Assad would travel to Moscow, given the relationship that Syria has with Russia, and given the recent military activities by Russia in Syria on behalf of Bashar al-Assad," Reuters quoted Kirby as saying.

According to RT, the Syrian president has repeatedly said that his use of nuclear weapons against Syrian people, as claimed by Western powers, is “nonsense” and “an insult to common sense.”