This Is London - Moscow has issued an extraordinary warning to the West that military assistance to Georgia for use against South Ossetia or Abkhazia would be viewed as a "declaration of war" by Russia.
The extreme rhetoric from the Kremlin's envoy to NATO came as President Dmitry Medvedev stressed he will make a military response to US missile defence installations in eastern Europe, sending new shudders across countries whose people were once blighted by the Iron Curtain.
And Moscow also emphasized it was closely monitoring what it claims is a build-up of NATO firepower in the Black Sea.
The incendiary warning on Western military involvement in Georgia - where NATO nations have long played a role in training and equipping the small state - came in an interview with Dmitry Rogozin, a former nationalist politician who is now ambassador to the North Atlantic Alliance.
"If NATO suddenly takes military actions against Abkhazia and South Ossetia, acting solely in support of Tbilisi, this will mean a declaration of war on Russia," he stated.
Yesterday likened the current world crisis to the fevered atmosphere before the start of the First World War.
Rogozin said he did not believe the crisis would descend to war between the West and Russia.