Both sides accepted the general outlines of a cease-fire plan, but Georgia complained hours after the Russian endorsement that bombs and shells were still falling.
Georgia 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.
Russia said its military assault was ending because its mission has been accomplished, reports CBS News correspondent Richard Roth. But Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made clear the Kremlin's army isn't pulling out, accusing the Georgian leader of starting the war, even calling him a lunatic.
Medvedev 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 backed the cease-fire plan negotiated by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, which calls for both sides to move back to their positions before fighting erupted.
"The U.S. was pleased to allow France to take the lead in brokering the peace," said CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk, "because Russia-U.S. relations have soured because of the conflict, at least temporarily, and the U.N. Security Council was stalemated."
Saakashvili said that he accepted 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 appeared to be signs fo Russian forces attacking Georgian targets within hours of Medvedev's televised order, if not after.
There was still real danger in the battle-scarred city of Gori, Roth reports.
Five people were killed in explosions on the main square - even though the fighting was supposed to have stopped. A Dutch journalist was among the victims.
An Associated Press reporter saw 135 Russian military vehicles headed toward the Kodori Gorge in Abkhazia.
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 push the Georgians out of the region.
The commander, Maj. Gen. Anatoly Zaitsev, said the Russian-backed separatist forces in Abkhazia had driven Georgian troops out of the gorge, their last stronghold in the region, after days of air and artillery strikes.
Hours before Medvedev's order, Russian jets bombed the crossroads city of Gori, near South Ossetia. The post office and university there were burning, but the city was all but deserted after most remaining residents and Georgian soldiers fled.
Saakashvili, speaking to thousands at a square in the capital of Tbilisi, red and white Georgian flags fluttering in the crowd, said the Russian invasion was not about the two disputed provinces.
"They just don't want freedom, and that's why they want to stamp on Georgia and destroy it," he declared.
He was joined by the leaders of the former Soviet bloc states of Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Polish President Lech Kacyznski warned the crowd that Russia wanted a return to the past.
"Everyone knows the next one could be Ukraine, and then Poland. All of Europe should be here now," he said.
Russia accused Georgia of killing more than 2,000 people, mostly civilians, in the separatist province of South Ossetia. The claim couldn't be independently confirmed, but witnesses who fled the area over the weekend said hundreds had died.
The overall death toll was expected to rise because large areas of Georgia were still too dangerous for journalists to enter and see the true scope of the damage.