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“We’ve made very clear that we will not accept any limitations on either the number or the capabilities of these [missile-defense] systems,” said Madelyn Creedon, the Pentagon’s assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs.

Ms. Tauscher also said the U.S. and its allies are not interested in a treaty or similar arrangement that would limit the use of the system and that they will push ahead with testing and deployment.

“We cannot and will not make any legally binding agreement that includes limitations on our ability to protect ourselves,” she said, before Gen. Makarov spoke. “There is nothing I can imagine that will stop us from making those deployments on time.”

Responding to the general’s comments, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the United States has “made clear for many years now that there’s no intent, desire or capability [for missile defense] to undermine Russia’s strategic deterrent.”

Asked whether he was “alarmed” by the general’s threat, Mr. Toner replied: “I think we’re just going to redouble our efforts to seek common ground on this and to seek understanding.”

Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain, traveling in Lithuania, accused the Russians of using missile defense as an “excuse to have a military buildup in this part of the world, which is at peace.”

The Arizona Republican, who once referred to the look in longtime Russian strongman Vladimir Putin’s eyes as spelling out “K-G-B,” called Kremlin saber-rattling”an egregious example of what might be even viewed as paranoia on the part of Vladimir Putin.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.