TBILISI, Georgia–Declaring “the aggressor has been punished,” the Kremlin ordered a halt Tuesday to Russia’s devastating assault on Georgia – five days of air and ground attacks that left homes in smoldering ruins and uprooted 100,000 people.
TBILISI, Georgia–Declaring "the aggressor has been punished," the Kremlin ordered a halt Tuesday to Russia’s devastating assault on Georgia – five days of air and ground attacks that left homes in smoldering ruins and uprooted 100,000 people.
Georgia said the bombs and shells were still coming hours after the cease-fire was declared, and its President Mikhail Saakashvili said Russia’s aim all along was not to gain control of two disputed provinces but to "destroy" the smaller nation, a former Soviet state and current U.S. ally.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, speaking in Moscow, said Georgia had paid enough for its attack on South Ossetia, a separatist region along the Russian border with close ties to Russia.
"The aggressor has been punished and suffered very significant losses. Its military has been disorganized," Medvedev said.
Still, the president ordered his defense minister at a televised Kremlin meeting: "If there are any emerging hotbeds of resistance or any aggressive actions, you should take steps to destroy them."
Hours later, Saakashvili told reporters that he generally accepted the cease-fire plan negotiated by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, which calls for both sides to move back to their positions before fighting erupted.
Saakashvili told reporters that he agreed to the "general principles" of the deal but said he saw no reason to sign it as it was only a "political document."
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, were believed to have died since Georgia launched its crackdown on South Ossetia on Thursday, drawing the punishing response from its much larger northern neighbor.
There was evidence Russian forces were attacking Georgian targets within hours of Medvedev’s televised order, if not after.
Georgian officials said Russia was attacking their troops in the gorge, but a commander in Abkhazia said only local forces, not Russian ones, were involved in pushing the Georgians out of the region.
The first relief flight from the U.N. refugee agency arrived in Georgia as the number of people uprooted by the conflict neared 100,000.
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