- Russian jets target towns, killing Georgian civilians
- Two planes shot down, 12 Russian soldiers dead
- Abkhazia province 'invaded by Russians', says Georgian President
- British Government calls for ceasefire and send Western diplomats to Georgia
- Russian bombers attempt to force back Georgian troops in South Ossetia
Georgia called for a ceasefire on Saturday after Russian bombers widened an offensive to force back Georgian troops seeking control over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.
The call seemed to fall on deaf ears, with Russia's leaders saying Moscow's actions were legitimate and that the only way to end the conflict was for Georgia to pull back from the region.
Russia said it had seized the rebel capital, Tskhinvali, but Georgia denied the claim on the second day of fighting that also threatens oil and gas pipelines seen as crucial in the West.
Russian officials said the death toll now stood at 2,000 and 30,000 refugees from South Ossetia had fled over the border to Russia over the past 36 hours.
Stirke: Soldiers run near a blazing block after an overnight bombardment in Gori
It said two of its warplanes had been shot down, 13 of its soldiers killed and 70 wounded.
Georgian officials said that on its side, 129 Georgians had been killed and 748 injured.
"I call for an immediate ceasefire," Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said in Tbilisi. "Russia has launched a full-scale military invasion of Georgia."
He accused Russia of deliberately targeting civilians.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband echoed calls for a ceasefire when he said today:
"The UK government is deeply concerned by the violence in Georgia. The escalation in fighting is dangerously destabilising and there is also the threat of civilian losses on a large scale. "
"The UK believes it is vital for leaderships on both sides to call for fighting to cease and for peace talks to start as soon as possible. " he added.
Devastation: A Georgian tank burns after fierce fighting
Georgian soldiers stand near a lorry evacuating local residents from Avnebi, a Georgian enclave near Tskhinvali, in the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia
U.S. President George W. Bush said Russian attacks on Georgia marked a "dangerous escalation" of the crisis and urged Moscow to halt the bombing immediately.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told Bush the only solution was for Georgian troops to quit the conflict zone.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin however defended Russia's incursion.
"Russia's actions in South Ossetia are totally legitimate," he said in the Russian city of Vladikavkaz, near to the separatist Georgian region.
Putin also accused Georgia of seeking "bloody adventures" and trying to drag other countries into a military conflict.
"Georgia's aspiration to join NATO ... is driven by its attempt to drag other nations and peoples into its bloody adventures," he said during a meeting in the Russian city of Vladikavkaz.
Build up: A column of Russian armoured vehicles head towards South Ossetia
South Ossetian refugees escape from Tskhinvali after the Georgian attack
Russia's military action dramatically intensified its long-running stand-off with the pro-Western Georgian leadership that has sparked alarm in the West and led to angry exchanges at the United Nations reminiscent of the Cold War.
Abkhazia, another pro-Russian enclave in Georgia, said its forces had begun an operation to drive out Georgian forces, possibly opening a second front against Tbilisi.
Bush, Saakashvili's main ally in the West, said Georgia's territorial integrity must be respected.
"The attacks are occurring in regions of Georgia far from the zone of conflict in South Ossetia. They mark a dangerous escalation in the crisis," said Bush, who is attending the Olympics in Beijing.
In a telephone call with Bush, Medvedev "stressed that the only way out of the tragic crisis provoked by the Georgian leadership is a withdrawal by Tbilisi of its armed formations from the conflict zone," a Kremlin statement said.
Russian officials said there could be no talks until Georgian forces pulled back.
South Ossetia residents look out from the window of a vehicle as they are evacuated
At least 1,500 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in heavy fighting.
Overnight, two Russian planes were shot down and 12 of its soldiers were killed - along with more civilians who perished during fighting in Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia.
Russian officials today said that 30,000 refugees have fled to Russia during the last 36 hours and a further 34,000 South Ossetian refugees have been registered so far in North Ossetia.
Fighter jets carried out up to five raids on mostly military targets around the Georgian town of Gori - close to the conflict zone in South Ossetia - but at least one bomb is thought to have hit an apartment killing five civilians, according to reports.
The Foreign Office today upgraded its travel advice to urge against all but essential travel to Georgia, as country heads for all-out war with Russia.
Dead Russian soldiers lie in an ambulance in a hospital at the South Ossetian settlement of Dzhava
Georgia has claimed to have shot down 10 Russian planes, but a press conference today was the first admission from Moscow that any of its planes had been downed.
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who declared a state of martial law last night, called on the U.S. to help, declaring: 'Russia is fighting a war with us in our own territory'.
The clashes came in the tiny disputed province of South Ossetia, which broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s.
Georgia has about 2,000 troops in Iraq, making it the third-largest contributor to coalition forces after the U.S. and Britain.
But Saakashvilihas said the troops would be called home in the face of the South Ossetia fighting.
Its capital, Tskhinvali, was said to have been 'almost destroyed' in onslaughts by both sides. Bodies lay in the streets and hospitals were overwhelmed with wounded.
Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili speaking to a patient as he visits a military hospital in the town of Gori yesterday
With fierce fighting still raging last night, there was grave concern that the conflict could escalate into a major international crisis.
Most of the 70,000 South Ossetians hold Russian passports and are allied to Moscow, while Georgia is an ally of the U.S. and has applied to join Nato.
In Beijing, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was seen to approach President Bush in the Olympic stadium where they were attending the opening ceremony.
Soon afterwards the U.S., Nato and the EU called for an immediate end to the fighting and the U.N. Security Council convened a tense emergency session for the second time last night to prevent an all-out war.
Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. secretary of state, called on Russia to withdraw its combat troops.
'We call on Russia to cease attacks on Georgia by aircraft and missiles, respect Georgia's territorial integrity, and withdraw its ground combat forces from Georgian soil,' she said.
An injured Georgian woman shouts in the town of Gori, 80 km from Tbilisi
Georgian troops had attacked before dawn, claiming that Ossetian separatists had broken a ceasefire.
Within hours, a column of more than 150 Russian tanks rolled into the breakaway province, which is no bigger than Norfolk.
The Kremlin already had 'peacekeeping' troops there. By evening, Russian and Georgian forces were in direct combat around Tskhinvali.
Amid reported heavy loss of life and claims of 'ethnic cleansing' , Georgia ordered a full mobilisation of its 26,000-strong armed forces. Some 2,000 troops are being pulled out of Iraq.
Refugees told of devastation in the capital.
'I saw bodies lying on the streets, around ruined buildings, in cars,' said Lyudmila Ostayeva, 50, who fled with her family to a village near the border with Russia.
'There are so many it's impossible to count them now. There is hardly a single building left undamaged.'
The city's main hospital was among the buildings hit by Georgian shelling, said the Russian news agency Interfax, and was unable to cope with the number of wounded people.
Elements of the Russian 58th Army were reported to be in control of some districts, with Georgian forces holding others.
Georgian television showed footage of Georgian soldiers firing machine guns and driving armoured personnel carriers through the deserted streets.
Shell holes pierced the grey concrete apartment blocks and plumes of smoke hung over the city.
Other footage showed Georgian soldiers sprinting through undergrowth and diving for cover as a Russian plane dropped bombs.
Russia described the operation as 'retaliatory' after a number of its 'peacekeepers' were killed.
Welcome: A man greets Georgian troops moving into Tskhinvali
Strike: Georgian shells are fired at separatist rebels in South Ossetia yesterday
But President Saakashvili said it was a long-planned 'declaration of war'.
He said the conflict 'is not about Georgia anymore. It's about America, its values.
'I thought that America stands up for those freedom-loving nations and supports them. That's what America is all about. That's why we look with hope at every American.'
Saakashvili said Russia had been massing troops on the border for months.
He said: 'They have been calling it training exercises, but they have not been concealing the fact that they are training these troops for use inside Georgia.
'The way the escalation went was we came first under extensive artillery barrage from the separatists... but in the end I was told that Russian armoured vehicles started to cross the Georgian border. And that was exactly the moment when I had to take this decision to fire back.'
He accused Moscow of timing the attack to coincide with the Olympics.
He said: 'Most decision makers have gone for the holidays... Brilliant moment to attack a small country.'
Though South Ossetia is small, it is part of a tinderbox region with vital importance to world energy supplies.
'Total mobilisation': Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili ordered all men to go to recruitment centres
Last night It was reported that hundreds of volunteer fighters from Georgia's other breakaway province, were heading to join the fighting. Other volunteers were said to be arriving from North Ossetia.
Georgia claimed to have shot down four Russian fighter jets, and said Russian planes bombed three air bases inside Georgia and a numberof towns and villages - including the birthplace of Josef Stalin. Moscow denied the reports.
Last night South Ossetian separatist leader Eduard Kokoity claimed about 1,500 people had died as a result of 'Georgian aggression'.
He said: 'We have this on the basis of reports from relatives'.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the Georgians of ethnic cleansing in villages in South Ossetia.
He added: 'The number of refugees is climbing, the panic is growing, people are trying to save their lives.'
Georgian policemen evacuate a Georgian soldier, wounded in battle
Russian military sources said their peacekeepers were waging a 'fierce' battle with Georgian forces and had suffered 12 dead and 150 wounded.
In his first diplomatic crisis since he took office, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev warned: 'I, as president of Russia, am obliged to protect the lives and dignity of Russian citizens wherever they are located.
'We won't allow the death of our compatriots go unpunished.'
But Georgian prime minister Lado Gurgenidze said Georgia had simply run out of patience with cross-border attacks by separatist militias in recent days and had had to move in to restore peace in South Ossetia.
Ossetian women and children escaping from South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali under the heavy fire of Georgian army
Georgia accuses Russia of arming the separatists, but Moscow denies the claim.
Nato said it was seriously concerned, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on all sides to show restraint.
The European security organisation, the OSCE, warned that the fighting risked escalating into full-scale war.
Georgian Ambassador Irakli Alasania said Russia had embarked on 'a full-scale military invasion' of his nation.
'Russia is openly challenging the international community,' he said, detailing a list of Russian bombings and troop movements.
'The Russian agression is aimed to subdue Georgia.'
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said his country's forces were peacemaking in an area that had by subjected to a "scorched earth" policy by Georgian aggression.
'This cannot be described as anything but a gross violation of international laws,' he said.
Most of Georgia's military hardware comes from former Warsaw Pact countries, and is outdated compared to the Russian army's equipment. its air force is also predominantly equipped with Russian-made aircraft.