Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned Friday that Georgian attack on South Ossetia would draw retaliation, and the Defense Ministry pledged to protect Russian citizens in the breakaway Georgian province.
Putin, on a trip to Beijing to attend the Olympics opening, did not specify the retaliatory action but criticized Georgia for the massive military offensive it mounted Friday to take control of South Ossetia.
South Ossetia has close ties with Russia, and the escalation of tensions has drawn fears that Russia may join the fighting.
Russia's Defense Ministry denounced the Georgian attack as a "dirty adventure." "Blood shed in South Ossetia will weigh on their conscience," the ministry said in a statement posted on its official Web site.
"We will protect our peacekeepers and Russian citizens," it said without elaboration.