The British foreign secretary, David Miliband, today said Russia must not start a new cold war as he accused Moscow of trying to redraw the map of Europe in the wake of the war in Georgia, according to Guardian.
Miliband was speaking in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, a Russian neighbour that, like Georgia, wants to join Nato.
The Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, yesterday defied the west by recognising as independent the breakaway Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
"The Georgia crisis has provided a rude awakening," Miliband said in a speech to students. "The sight of Russian tanks in a neighbouring country on the 40th anniversary of the crushing of the Prague spring has shown that the temptations of power politics remain.
"The old sores and divisions fester. And Russia is not yet reconciled to the new map of this region. Yesterday`s unilateral attempt to redraw the map marks a moment of real significance.
"The Russian president says he is not afraid of a new cold war. We don`t want one. He has a big responsibility not to start one."
But Miliband again reiterated his opposition to Russia`s explusion from the G8 group of leading industrialised countries.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, today spoke to Medvedev by phone and told him the presence of Russian troops in parts of Georgia was a grave violation of the ceasefire deal between the countries.
It was the first contact between the Kremlin and the west since Medvedev surprised the world by recognising Georgia`s separatist provinces - a stance Merkel sharply condemned. "The chancellor renewed her call for the immediate enforcement of the six-point [ceasefire] plan," said Merkel`s spokesman, Ulrich Wilhelm.
The Kremlin said Medvedev had assured Merkel he remained committed to the ceasefire with Georgia under which Russia agreed to withdraw most of its forces.
The two provinces yesterday reacted with jubilation to the Russian recognition of their independence.
Georgia today said it was withdrawing all but two of its diplomats from Mosco. Timur Yakobashvili, a government minister, said the Georgian ambassador would not return to the Russian capital.
Russia`s short war with Georgia has sparked nervousness in Ukraine, which wants closer ties to the west.
The Ukrainian president, Viktor Yushchenko, said Russia`s decision to recognise the Georgian rebel regions was "unacceptable" and threatened security in countries that were once part of the Soviet Union.
The French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, warned that Russia could have its eye on other neighbouring countries, such as Ukraine and Moldova.
France, which holds the rotating EU presidency, has called an emergency meeting of EU leaders to review the relationship between Russia and Europe next week.
Kouchner told Europe 1 radio it was "not impossible" that Russia would now regularly choose to confront the west rather than cooperate with it. "There are other objectives that one can suppose are objectives for Russia, in particular the Crimea, Ukraine and Moldova," he said.
Like Georgia, Ukraine has a pro-western president and a large Russian-speaking population, but it is much bigger than Georgia.
Russia`s Black Sea fleet is docked at the port of Sevastopol in the Crimea, southern Ukraine, under a lease that runs until 2017, and most people who live there are ethnic Russians.
Yushchenko said Ukraine may try to increase the cost of leasing the Sevastopol base to the Black Sea fleet - a renegotiation Moscow said would break a 1997 agreement.
Medvedev has been accused of inflaming the crisis with his declaration that Russia was "not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a new cold war". But he told a news agency: "We don`t want it, and in this situation everything depends on the position of our partners."
He said the west would have to "understand the reason behind" the decision to recognise the regions if it wanted to preserve good relations with Russia.
Medvedev is hoping to drum up support from eastern allies at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) tomorrow.
But Moscow`s allies in the former Soviet Union, Asia and elsewhere, who traditionally side with the Kremlin against the west on contentious issues, are not expected to give their backing at the summit in Tajikistan`s capital, Dushanbe.
The biggest prize for Russia would be to win the support of China when Medvedev meets the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, at the summit, but Alexey Mukhin, the head of the Centre of Political Information thinktank, said this would not happen. "China, which has its own separatists, will be the biggest problem," he said. "The recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is unacceptable for Beijing."