The Kremlin has said the US was "on the verge of a military clash with Russia".

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was reported in the Daily Mail as denouncing Donald Trump for attacking "the legitimate government of Syria" and for allegedly breaking international law without the approval of the UN.

Medvedev said: "This military action is a clear indication of the US president's extreme dependency on the views of the Washington establishment, the one that the new president strongly criticised in his inauguration speech.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has spoken out against the US missile attack on Syria. Photo / AP
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has spoken out against the US missile attack on Syria. Photo / AP

"Soon after his victory, I noted that everything would depend on how soon Trump's election promises would be broken by the existing power machine. It took only two and a half months.

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"The last remaining election fog has lifted. Instead of an overworked statement about a joint fight against the biggest enemy, ISIS, the Trump administration proved that it will fiercely fight the legitimate Syrian government."

In a show of force, Vladimir Putin has sent his most advanced Black Sea frigate into the eastern Mediterranean, putting it into direct confrontation with US Navy destroyers which launched an air strike against the Syrian military, reported Newsweek.

Putin's Admiral Grigorovich frigate reportedly left its port of Sevastopol, in Crimea, and headed toward the US destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross - the same ships that began the offensive against Syrian targets.

The 4,000-ton Admiral Grigorovich is equipped with the potentially deadly Kalibr cruise missiles and last night was headed to dock in the Syrian port of Tartus, reported Russia's official TASS News Agency.

The Admiral Grigorovich frigate was most recently involved in joint naval drills conducted between Russia and Turkey in the Black Sea, in a rare show of co-operation between the two countries.

The warship could potentially stay off the Syrian coast for up to a month, The New York Post reported.

This satellite image released by the US Department of Defense shows a damage assessment image of Shayrat air base in Syria. Photo / AP
This satellite image released by the US Department of Defense shows a damage assessment image of Shayrat air base in Syria. Photo / AP

Adding to the tension between the two superpowers, Moscow has suspended communication on a specialised military hotline with the US designed to prevent conflict with the US following the air strikes in Syria.

The "deconfliction line" between Russia and the US has been described as an imperfect but essential tool in times of tension. It's a regular phone line staffed with a Russian-speaking colonel on the US side and is operated from a US base in Qatar speaking to Russian counterparts in Syria, AFP reports.

The line enabled the US to warn the Kremlin of impending air strikes on Thursday and was also used in February to stop a Russian strike on US jets it had mistaken for Isis forces in a region of northern Syria.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says two Sukhoi warplanes took off from the Shayrat air base in central Syria, which was targetted by the US missile strike, and attacked positions of the Islamic State group.

Osama Abu Zeid of the Homs Media Center says a number of warplanes took off from the Shayrat air base and landed in the nearby T4 air base. He says they did not carry out any attacks.

It was not immediately clear why the two gave different accounts of the events.

The Kremlin said earlier yesterday that just 23 of 59 cruise missiles fired from American warships reached the air base, leaving the runway intact.

Russia's deputy UN ambassador Vladimir Safronkov inspects a smart phone during a Security Council meeting. Photo / AP
Russia's deputy UN ambassador Vladimir Safronkov inspects a smart phone during a Security Council meeting. Photo / AP

Russia reacted angrily at unilateral US action, calling it an act of "aggression" that will have "negative consequences".

The Foreign Ministry called the attack an "irresponsible approach" that was being used to justify a premeditated attack.

"Seeking to justify military action Washington has totally distorted what had happened in Idlib. The US could not have failed to grasp the fact that the Syrian government troops did not use chemical weapons there. Damascus simply does not have them, as confirmed a number of times by qualified experts.

"It is obvious that the cruise missile attack was prepared in advance. Any expert understands that Washington's decision on air strikes predates the Idlib events, which simply served as a pretext for a show of force."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a stern warning about the
Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a stern warning about the "inevitable negative consequences". Photo / AP
This photo provided on April 4, 2017 shows a man carrying a child following a suspected chemical attack. Photo / AP
This photo provided on April 4, 2017 shows a man carrying a child following a suspected chemical attack. Photo / AP

The US Commander-in-Chief President Trump ordered 59 Tomohawk missile strikes on the air base Thursday night in retaliation for a chemical attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed at least 72 people including 11 children earlier this week.

Early footage released by the Russian military shows fires blazing and damage at the site. The Russian Defence Ministry said 23 of the missiles fired hit targets.

It said the effectiveness of the strike was "extremely low" and Moscow suspended a bilateral agreement with the US designed to prevent midair collisions over Syria.

Syrian state media said nine people were killed in the strike from villages near the base, including four children.

This satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows the Shayrat air base in Syria on April 7, following US missile strikes. Photo / AP
This satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows the Shayrat air base in Syria on April 7, following US missile strikes. Photo / AP

The US air strike has been commended by leaders from around the world including the UK, Australia, Germany, France, Turkey, Italy and New Zealand among others.

It marked a rapid policy shift for Trump who previously warned against getting involved in Syria. Ahead of the launch, he said the shocking images of children struck with chemicals had changed his mind.

The move puts Trump and Putin in direct opposition to one another over the issue amid an FBI investigation over Russian influence on members of the Trump team during the election campaign.

Russia, who has backed Syrian President Assad's forces, condemned the strike and vowed to strengthen Syrian air defences.

US politicians have praised Trump for the attack, saying he must be "prepared to take other action" in Syria.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain leaves the chamber after speaking about the airstrike in Syria. Photo / AP
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain leaves the chamber after speaking about the airstrike in Syria. Photo / AP

Senator John McCain and Lindsey Graham have urged him to destroy Syrian air forces while he has the chance.

In an MSNBC interview yesterday morning, McCain said the move "restores credibility" to the US and provides a chance to "reboot".

In a joint statement with Senator Graham following the attack he said the strikes showed a "credible first step" during a "pivotal moment."

"Unlike the previous administration, President Trump confronted a pivotal moment in Syria and took action. For that, he deserves the support of the American people. Building on tonight's credible first step, we must finally learn the lessons of history and ensure that tactical success leads to strategic progress."

Senator Marco Rubio said it was a chance to create "alternatives" to the Assad regimen.

"We need to now move forward through a combination of diplomacy and, quite frankly, the support of groups on ground, particularly non-jihadist Sunni groups, to create alternatives to the Assad regimen," he said.