Image:Robert Gates, Andrus Ansip
Timur Nisametdinov  /  AP file
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, left, and Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip held discussions in Tallinn on Wednesday.
msnbc.com news services
updated 11/13/2008 8:06:26 AM ET 2008-11-13T13:06:26

The United States views Russian threats to place tactical missiles near the border of NATO member Poland as provocative and misguided, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday.

Speaking after a NATO meeting with Ukraine, Gates said the Russian threats were "hardly the welcome a new American administration deserved," referring to the fact they were made immediately after Sen. Barack Obama won the presidential election.

"Such provocative remarks are unnecessary and misguided," Gates told a news conference in the Estonian capital Tallinn.

He said Washington would continue to seek a constructive and positive relationship with Russia.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last week warned that Moscow was considering deploying Iskander missiles in its westernmost region of Kaliningrad in response to U.S. plans for a missile defense shield based in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Medvedev and other Kremlin officials have backed off slightly since then, however. The Russian leader has suggested that if Washington halts its plans, Moscow would do the same.

Meanwhile, Medvedev said he hopes for a better relationship with the U.S. president-elect  than he has with the current U.S. administration.

Speaking in a televised interview with French journalists, Medvedev said he had had a good telephone conversation with Obama and that they had agreed they should meet face-to-face as soon as possible.

"I hope... we'll be able to find a way out of these (difficult) situations, which we haven't been able to do with our current colleagues," he said in a televised interview with French journalists.

"The new president has a big reserve of goodwill. He was elected during a very difficult period. I wish him success in dealing with what lies before him," he said.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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