Russia withdrew all its warships from the Tartus naval base in Syria on Wednesday ahead of a possible US military strike on the war-torn country, according to satellite images recently released by Israel's ImageSat International (IS).
On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump published a strongly worded tweet warning Russia of an incoming strike in retaliation for the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government in Douma.
"Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria," the Trump tweeted, warning: "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!"
In response, the head of the Douma defence committee and former commander of Russian airborne troops, Vladimir Shamanov, said that "the Russian military ships left Tartus naval base in Syria to ensure their security" and warned that Moscow would take all measures, including military ones, in response to a possible US strike on government forces in Syria.
"Not a single unlawful action will be left without response," Shamanov was quoted by Russia Today (RT) as saying.
On his part, Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, called for calm, stressing that the Russian government "does not participate in Twitter diplomacy".
"We support serious approaches. We continue to believe that it is important not to take steps that could harm an already fragile situation," Peskov was quoted as saying by Russia's Interfax.
The Syrian government has strongly denied any involvement in the alleged chemical attack on Douma. The Syrian President Bashar Assad said on Tuesday that his government had invited a mission from an international chemical weapons watchdog to the country to investigate the alleged attack.