Georgia launched a large-scale offensive to seize control over the province early on Friday using tanks, combat aircraft, heavy artillery and infantry. Local authorities say numerous civilians were killed, and the Russian Defense Ministry says at least 15 Russian peacekeepers lost their lives in the onslaught.
"Our peacekeepers along with reinforcement units are currently conducting an operation to force the Georgian side to accept peace. They are also responsible for protecting the population," Medvedev told Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov in the Kremlin.
Russian tanks and artillery flooded across the border into South Ossetia on Friday after the Georgian attack.
On Friday evening, Medvedev ordered for humanitarian aid to be provided to people affected by the conflict.