Russia denied Thursday that it illegally annexed the Baltic nations in 1940, rejecting demands from three former Soviet republics that it admit having illegally occupied them during World War II.
Russia's point man on relations with the European Union, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, said the Baltic governments of the time had willingly invited Soviet troops into their countries and agreed to join the Soviet Union.
"One cannot use the term 'occupation' to describe those historical events," Yastrzhembsky told a news conference. "At that time, the troop deployment took place on an agreed basis and with the clearly expressed agreement of the existing authorities in the Baltic republics."
On the photo: Sergei Yastrzhembsky