Russia has gone into an open confrontation with the West by its military invasion of Georgia and the events preceding the Russia-Georgia conflict, Jaroslav Basta, Czech Ambassador to Ukraine and former ambassador to Russia, said Monday.

He said it has been the first time Russia openly confronted the West since 1991.

The West should admit that Russia has been better prepared for this confrontation, Basta told a Prague conference on the relations between the European Union and Russia.

He said Russian military action in Georgia has been the culmination of Moscow`s opposition to NATO`s effort to extend its borders closer to those of Russia.

According to Basta, Moscow tries to heal its trauma from the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the loss of influence by the conflict.

The situation is dangerous also because Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin uses the conflict to strengthen his position, while President Dmitry Medvedev considers it a way towards gaining power, Basta said.

The West prevailed in the struggle over the post-Soviet area by 2005, but then a change in balance of power occurred when at first the West lost its influence in Central Asia.

The present situation is difficult as it is influenced by Russia`s economic growth.

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg criticised the Russian invasion of Georgia at a U.N. meeting this weekend, comparing Russia`s attitude to those of colonial empires.

Schwarzenberg also supported an international mission in Georgia.

Russia acknowledged independence of two Georgian breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia and it signed cooperation agreements with both countries earlier this month.

Prague Daily Monitor