NATO called on Russia to reverse its decision to recognise two rebel Georgian regions and urged Moscow to respect Georgia`s territorial integrity, according to AFP.

NATO "condemns the decision of the Russian Federation to extend recognition to the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia and calls upon Russia to reverse its decision," the 26 alliance ambassadors said in a statement.

"Russia`s actions have called into question its commitment to peace and security in the Caucasus. Georgia`s recovery of stability and security are important to the alliance," they said after a meeting in Brussels.

"NATO calls on Russia to respect Georgia`s territorial integrity," the statement said.

On Tuesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he had signed a decree recognising the two regions as independent states, in a startling new challenge to the West.

Russia`s ambassador to NATO has also announced that Moscow is suspending cooperation with the world`s biggest military alliance and has postponed a visit by NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, scheduled for October.

Tensions have mounted since Russian forces entered Georgia on August 8 to thwart a Georgian attempt to regain control of South Ossetia that had been lost to Moscow-backed separatists.

France brokered a ceasefire but the United States and other Western nations have accused Russia of breaching the accord by keeping tanks and troops in Georgia.

New Cold War

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Mr Medvedev had a big responsibility not to start a new Cold War which the West does not want.

Britain was among many countries to condemn Russia`s recognition of Georgia`s breakaway regions and Mr Miliband earlier called for an international coalition to counter it.

"Russia has not reconciled itself to the new map of this new region ... We do not want a new Cold War and he (Medvedev) has a big responsibility not to start one," Mr Miliband told a group of students in Ukraine`s capital, Kiev.

"We need to raise the costs to Russia for disregarding its responsibility," he said, adding that there would be a conference call involving the foreign ministers of the G7.

"We need to re-examine the nature, depth and breadth of relations (with Russia)," he said.