MOSCOW (AP) _ Declaring Lithuanian independence is ''inevitable,'' former President Richard Nixon on Sunday visited the site of the bloodiest clash during the Kremlin's crackdown on the secession-minded Baltic republic.

Nixon spoke to a cheering crowd of several thousand people at the broadcasting town in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. Fifteen protesters died there on Jan. 13, when Soviet troops stormed the tower.

Nixon said the deaths directed ''the attention of the whole world'' to the cause of Lithuanian independence.

The people killed at the tower were the first to die at the hands of the Soviet military after the Lithuanian parliament declared independence on March 11, 1990. Twenty-two people were killed by pro-Kremlin forces in Lithuanian and Latvia during the two-month crackdown.

''Lithuania's independence is inevitable,'' Nixon said. ''I cannot tell you today how and when the independence will be consummated, but you can be sure that you have the support of the great majority of the people of the United States, and that independence must come, but let it come peacefully and let it come expeditiously.''

A text of Nixon's speech was released by the Lithuanian parliament, and the former president's aides confirmed its content.

Nixon is on a private visit to the Soviet Union until March 30.