The six-hour visit of Russian Foreign Minister Evgeny Primakov to Lithuania and his statement that the accession of any Baltic state to NATO is unacceptable to Russia has provoked a sharp reaction.

The leading Lithuanian daily, Lietuvos Rytas, said that “Russia cannot reconcile itself to Lithuania’s independence” and described as “nuclear blackmail,” a recent warning that Moscow could retaliate against any attempt to join NATO by deploying tactical nuclear weapons near the Baltic state.

Respublika, the other leading daily, said that Russia “to this day, has not renounced imperial ambitions.”

The Lithuanian defense minister, Ceslovas Stankevicius, said in the wake of Primakov’s visit, that despite Russia’s blandishments, Lithuania’s position was unchanged. “Lithuania has the right to join the military alliance of its choice.”

The Estonian foreign minister, Toomas Ilves, in the meantime, in an interview with a Canadian newspaper, said that Russia displays the syndrome of “post-colonial stress” a remark which drew a swift rejoinder from the Russian foreign ministry which described it as “rude,” “abusive” and “full of open hostility toward Russia.”