In a BBC interview broadcast in Russia, Vladimir Putin surprised his listeners by speculating on possible Russian membership in NATO and telling them that only “with difficulty” is NATO seen “as an enemy.” The following day, Putin swept up after himself, saying that only if NATO sheds its military role and becomes purely political, like the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, would Russia be interested in membership. “We are not going to join” an organization that bombs Yugoslavia, he said.

But in the Baltic states and elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, political leaders were quick to put their own spin on the interview. Reactions: