Georgia says attacks continue
Russian raids targeted two villages outside South Ossetia?
Georgia`s government says Russian military planes are continuing with airstrikes despite the Kremlin saying the fighting is over, according to AP.
Georgian government says in a statement that Russian raids targeted two villages outside South Ossetia after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declared the Russian military action today.
Medvedev ordered a halt to military action in Georgia today, after five days of air and land attacks that took Russian forces deep into its small U.S.-allied neighbor in the Caucasus.
Medvedev said on national television that the military had punished Georgia enough for its attack on South Ossetia. Georgia launched an offensive late Thursday to regain control over the separatist Georgian province, which has close ties to Russia.
``The security of our peacekeepers and civilians has been restored,`` Medvedev said. ``The aggressor has been punished and suffered very significant losses. Its military has been disorganized.``
The Russian president, however, said he ordered the military to defend itself and quell any signs of Georgian resistance.
``If there are any emerging hotbeds of resistance or any aggressive actions, you should take steps to destroy them,`` he told his defense minister at a televised Kremlin meeting.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, just arrived in Moscow carrying Western demands for a Russian pullback, welcomed the decision to halt the fighting but said Georgia`s sovereignty, integrity and security must be protected. There was no immediate comment from the United States.
As he started talks with Sarkozy, Medvedev said Georgia must pull its troops from the breakaway regions and pledge not to use force again to solve the conflict.
Hours before Medvedev`s announcement, Russian forces bombed the town of Gori and launched an offensive in the only part of Abkhazia still under Georgian control, tightening the assault on the beleaguered nation.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier today that Georgia`s President Mikhail Saakashvili should leave office and that Georgian troops should stay out of South Ossetia permanently.
Moscow will not talk to Saakashvili, Lavrov said; the best thing for Saakashvili to do ``would be to step down.`` But he said Moscow has not made Saakashvili`s departure a condition for ending hostilities.
The U.N. and NATO had called meetings today to deal with the conflict, which blew up in South Ossetia and quickly developed into an East-West crisis that raised fears in former Soviet bloc nations of Eastern Europe. Five European presidents were headed to Russia and Georgia to mediate.
Russian troops who had advanced into Georgia on Monday from South Ossetia, took positions near Gori on the main east-west highway as terrified civilians fled the area, and Saakashvili said his country had effectively been cut in half.
Russian jets targeted administrative buildings and a street market in the center of Gori today, Georgia`s security chief Alexander Lomaia said, but there was no immediate information about casualties.