General Lashes Out at Pentagon

The country's top military officer on Saturday accused the United States of seeking direct confrontation with Moscow and warned again that U.S. plans to deploy missile defenses in Europe would destabilize the continent.

General Yury Baluyevsky said such a deployment would prompt an "asymmetrical response." He did not elaborate.

Baluyevsky spoke at a joint news conference with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak, who repeated that Russia would not increase troop levels on its western border even after suspending participation in a key arms treaty.

The comments were the latest in a series of belligerent warnings to the United States and NATO from Russian officials.

Baluyevsky, the chief of the General Staff, said U.S. Defense Department policies continued to openly challenge Moscow.

"The question of confrontation with Russia, mildly speaking, including direct confrontation, unfortunately has not been struck from the agenda by my colleagues at the Pentagon," he told reporters. He did not elaborate.

Among the issues that have most undermined Russian-U.S. relations in recent years is a U.S. plan to put elements of a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Russia has said the system will be used to spy on Russian missile and military forces; Washington says it will help defend Europe from a potential missile attack from Iran.