Lavrov Expresses His Worries Over Asian Missile Programs

TOKYO -- Moscow is closely monitoring the development and deployment of missiles in Asia, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday, adding that such moves create a confrontational atmosphere and should not be pursued.

Lavrov did not single out any specific country, but his remarks come as Japan is developing its ballistic missile defenses in coordination with the United States. Russia has strongly criticized similar efforts in Europe.

"We in Russia follow closely the development of missiles in the region," Lavrov told a gathering of businessmen and diplomats in Tokyo.

"It is mandatory to do away with confrontational attitudes," he said. "One cannot ensure one's own security by threatening the security of others."

Russia has strongly opposed U.S. plans for a missile-defense system based in Poland and the Czech Republic, former Soviet satellites that are now members of NATO. President Dmitry Medvedev said in his state-of-the-nation address Wednesday that Russia would deploy missiles in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, near Poland, in response to the U.S. missile-defense plans. He did not say whether the short-range Iskander missiles would be fitted with nuclear warheads.

The prime ministers of Poland and the Czech Republic said Wednesday that they expected the incoming U.S. administration of Barack Obama to go ahead with the missile-defense shield.

Japan, meanwhile, has moved ahead with plans to develop a missile shield to protect its capital from attack and has backed the deployment of Patriot missiles at a U.S. military base on the southern island of Okinawa.

Japan has stepped up its missile-defense plans because of concerns that the country and the roughly 50,000 U.S. troops deployed throughout the islands are well within range of North Korean missiles.