Tuesday, after invoking Kosovo to recognize two separatist republics, Russia changed its tack.
Damascus is seeking an arms deal with Moscow, a move that would bolster its position in the Middle East.
Medvedev approved the move a day after parliament voted unanimously in favor of it.
In the coming weeks, the West will be shaping a long-term response to what many see as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's bid to change the post-cold-war world.
Our correspondent describes a tour led by Kremlin press attaché Sasha Mechevsky through Russian-controlled villages and the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali.
Seizing on the conflict in Georgia, East European countries are pushing for strong measures against an aggressive Moscow they say they know all too well.
Oil-pipeline routes, market leverage make struggle a 'battle for energy.'
The US bid to promote a fourth round of sanctions may get lost amid sharp dispute over Russian military action in Georgia.
A key question: Will the conflict divert voters' attention from the economy this fall?