Lavrov: Baltics show no gratitude for Moscow letting them go

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STOCKHOLM (AP) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says the Baltic countries have shown no gratitude to Moscow for letting them "go in peace" after the Soviet Union collapsed.

In an interview published Friday in Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Lavrov singled out Lithuania as the "most aggressive, Russo-phobic country" and said it is pushing NATO in an "anti-Russian direction."

He said NATO colleagues once told him that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania would "calm down" once they joined the alliance in 2004.

"They joined NATO but there was no calm, especially not with our Lithuanian neighbor," Lavrov was quoted as saying.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius called Lavrov's comments "pure propaganda."

"The term Russo-phobe is totally inappropriate. I would agree with Kremlin-phobe, as we can see a difference between Russia and its rulers' policies," Linkevicius told the Baltic News Service.

Lavrov also defended the actions of Russian warplanes this month as they buzzed a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Baltic Sea, saying they decided to take a look at the ship "from a safe distance."

The Baltic countries regained their independence in the early 1990's after nearly five decades under Soviet occupation. More than a dozen people were killed and scores were injured in a Soviet crackdown on Lithuania's independence drive in January 1991.

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