A UGM-109 Tomahawk missile detonating above a test target in 1986.

"You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!" President Donald Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

  • President Donald Trump threw down the gauntlet Wednesday morning by telling Russia to prepare for a US missile strike on Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack blamed on the Syrian government.
  • A Russian diplomat had previously threatened to shoot down US missiles, and the platforms that fire them, if the US attacked Syria.
  • But the Kremlin has urged caution, trying to talk the US down from a strike on Syria.

President Donald Trump threw down the gauntlet on Wednesday morning by telling Russia to prepare for a US missile strike on Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack.

"Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!" Trump tweeted.

Trump's tweet follows Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin effectively threatening to shoot down US planes or sink ships if they open fire.

In an interview with Hezbollah's al-Manar TV, Zasypkin said: "If there is a strike by the Americans, then… the missiles will be downed and even the sources from which the missiles were fired."

Vladimir Shamanov, a defense committee chairman in the Russian legislature’s lower house also said on Tuesday the US would face “grave repercussions” for a strike on Syria.

When the US last struck Syria over its alleged chemical weapons attack in April 2017, it used US Navy guided-missile destroyer ships to launch Tomahawk missiles at an airbase.

"The Russian military in Syria has air defence systems theoretically capable of shooting down US Tomahawk missiles," Justin Bronk, an air combat expert at the Royal United Services Institute told Business Insider.

But, according to Bronk, a large salvo of US missiles could overwhelm the defenses, which are "are largely unproven in actual combat use."

Also, due to the extremely high stakes a conflict between the US and Russia would entail, Bronk said Russia is "extremely unlikely to actually attack US ships or aircraft outside of Syrian territory, if at all."

And while one Russian diplomat did say that US missiles would be shot down and met with a counter-attack, the Kremlin's official line has been to press for calm.

"We would like to hope that all sides will avoid any steps that a) are not provoked by anything and b) could significantly destabilize an already fragile situation in the region," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters, according to Reuters.