Russia needs "to develop offensive weapons systems" to counter US missile defences and maintain the strategic balance, PM Vladimir Putin says.
Otherwise, the United States would feel "completely protected" and able to "do whatever they want", Mr Putin added.
The US this year dropped controversial plans for missile defence bases in the Czech Republic and Poland, but said it would develop other defensive systems.
Mr Putin said such plans were hindering nuclear arms reduction talks.
Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, BBC Moscow correspondent Russia's government said until just a few days ago that these strategic arms reduction treaty talks were in their final stages, that they were perhaps just a couple of weeks away from signing a new document.
And now suddenly Mr Putin has come out with this statement, which really does put a spanner in the works.
I think it shows just how nervous Russia is about the idea of a US missile defence, despite the fact President Obama in September said they were going to scrap land-based missile defence in Europe.
The US plans to build another system; the Russians don't know exactly how that's going to affect them and how it may neutralise their nuclear deterrent. I think Mr Putin is voicing a concern that is held by many experts in this country.
Russia and the US are yet to find a successor to the Cold War-era Start I treaty, which expired on 5 December.
The 1991 treaty led to deep cuts in nuclear arsenals by Washington and Moscow.
Both sides have agreed to continue observing Start I until they reach a new agreement.
Under a joint understanding signed in July, deployed nuclear warheads should be cut to below 1,700 on each side within seven years of a new treaty - a huge cut on Soviet-era levels.
Nonetheless, between them the two countries will retain enough firepower to destroy the world several times over.
"To preserve the balance, we must develop offensive weapons systems, not missile defence systems as the US is doing," Mr Putin said during a visit to Russia's Far East.
"The problems of missile defence and offensive arms are very closely linked.
"By building such an umbrella over themselves our [US] partners could feel themselves fully secure and will do whatever they want, which upsets the balance," the Russian premier added.
'Correct and brave'
Mr Putin did not say what kind of offensive weapons Russia was seeking to develop.
Earlier this month, President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia would continue to develop new nuclear missiles and launchers despite the disarmament talks, describing this as "routine practice".
In September, Mr Putin described as "correct and brave" a decision by US President Barack Obama to shelve controversial missile defence bases in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Mr Obama did, however, say Washington would develop new ballistic missile defences elsewhere, including a sea-based system.
He said the US still needed a programme to defend the US against missiles from "rogue states" like Iran.
Moscow had long objected to plans by the administration of former-President George W Bush to base a missile interceptor system close to its borders, calling it a threat to its security.