Russian forces close in on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and shell the port city of Mariupol

The situation is rapidly deteriorating in Ukrainewhere Russian forces close in on the capital Kyiv and bombard and surround the strategically important port city of Mariupol.

Ground forces moved within 24 km of central Kiev, according to the UK Ministry of Defence. Around the town, artillery barrages forced residents to take cover.

In Mariupol, which has seen some of the worst suffering since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces shelled a mosque housing more than 80 people, including children, the Ukrainian government said on Saturday. The number of casualties was not immediately clear.

Ukraine’s president suggested the war had reached a “strategic turning point” as shelling of nearby towns intensified.

A Ukrainian soldier comes out of a damaged building after a bombing in Kiev, March 12, 2022.

ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

The United States is deploying additional troops to Eastern Europe to support NATO forces. He also sends more weapons and billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine.

President Biden reiterated his position on Friday that no American soldiers will go into combat.

Amid the developments, the civilian death toll rises in the third week of the offensive.

In the port city of Mykolaiv on the Black Sea, the night offers no rest. In an effort to cut Ukraine off from vital access to the sea, Russian bombardments have destroyed infrastructure, homes and families.

Two weeks ago, children – who are now forced to live in a basement under an abandoned market – were playing hide and seek. Now they are hiding from banned cluster bombs, according to the local government. Their cold, dark bunker will only fill up in the coming days, says Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych.

CBS News’ Chris Livesay asked him if Russia was deliberately attacking civilians.

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“I think the main idea is to kill Ukrainians as much as they can,” he said. “It’s a complete lie when they say they want to protect us. They want to kill as many Ukrainians as possible.”

It is not only the bombardments that civilians have to fear. In the occupied city of Melitopol, Russian soldiers captured the mayor, put a bag over his head and took him to an undisclosed location in broad daylight.

Across Ukraine, those brave enough to come out find their cities crippled.

The disputed eastern city of Volnovakha is now in the teeth of Russian separatists, brandishing a Z mark to show loyalty to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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