As Russia\u0026#039;s forces were reportedly \u0022pushing into smaller cities and encircling larger ones\u0022 across Ukraine on Friday, civilians continued to endure the devastating consequences of the invasion launched last month by Russian President Vladimir Putin.\r\n\r\n\u0022The utter devastation being visited on these cities is horrific.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022The situation is particularly alarming in Mariupol, Kharkiv, Sumy, and Chernihiv, where there is shelling of residential areas and civilian infrastructure, resulting in an increasing number of civilians killed and injured,\u0022 said Rosemary DiCarlo, United Nations under-secretary-general for political and peacebuilding affairs. \u0022The utter devastation being visited on these cities is horrific.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022The numbers bear out the conclusion that civilians are paying the highest price for the conflict,\u0022 she told the U.N. Security Council.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWhile Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba posted higher numbers on Twitter Friday, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recorded at least 1,546 civilian casualties in Ukraine, including 564 killed and 982 injured.\r\n\r\nNoting the OHCHR figures, DiCarlo acknowledged that the true toll is \u0022likely considerably higher, as information from locations where intense hostilities are ongoing has been delayed and reports are still pending corroboration.\u0022\r\n\r\nThe U.N. official continued:\r\n\r\n\r\nMost of the recorded civilian casualties, which include children, have been caused by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems, and missile and airstrikes.\r\n\r\nOHCHR has received credible reports of Russian forces using cluster munitions, including in populated areas. Indiscriminate attacks, including those using cluster munitions, which are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction, are prohibited under international humanitarian law.\r\n\r\nDirect attacks against civilians and civilian objects, as well as so-called area bombardment in towns and villages, are also prohibited under international law and may amount to war crimes.\r\n\r\n\r\n\u0022We cannot emphasize it enough: The targeting of civilians, of residential buildings, hospitals, schools, kindergartens, is inexcusable and intolerable,\u0022 she added, demanding investigations into violations of international law, aid for displaced people, allowing safe passage for civilians, and negotiations to not only stop the war but also respect \u0022Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity, within its internationally recognized borders.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nFilippo Grandi, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, tweeted Friday that millions of people have been \u0022forced to leave their homes by this senseless war.\u0022\r\n\r\nSince the Russian invasion began on February 24, the number of people who have fled Ukraine for neighboring nations has topped 2.5 million, and the U.N. Refugee Agency estimates that another two million people are displaced within the country, according to Grandi.\r\n\r\n\u0022Access to conflict-affected communities in hard-hit areas like Mariupol and Kharkiv remains very restricted due to the ongoing military activities and increased presence of landmines, exacerbating humanitarian needs by the day,\u0022 the agency said Friday. \u0022Food, water, medicines and medical care, shelter, basic household items, blankets, mattresses, cash, building materials, generators, and fuel are urgently needed.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe New York Times reported that \u0022the Russian military struck Ukrainian cities far from the main battle lines on Friday, pressing its strategy of bombing Ukraine into submission as the country plunged deeper into misery and privation more than two weeks into the war.\u0022\r\n\r\nDetailing the dire conditions faced by civilians throughout Ukraine, the newspaper noted:\r\n\r\n\r\nThe situation is particularly catastrophic in Mariupol, where on Friday Pyotr Andryuschenko, an adviser to Mariupol\u0026#039;s mayor, said it was impossible to tally bodies in the streets because the bombing had not let up.\r\n\r\n\u0022Since 6:00 am there has been no break: shelling, bombardment, shelling, bombardment,\u0022 he said. \u0022The last relatively safe places in the city are being shelled, and they are shooting at residential areas.\u0022\r\n\r\nHe added: \u0022Humanity has not yet invented a word for what Russia is doing to us.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\nFootage of devastating scenes throughout Ukraine circulated on news networks and social media:\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nCNN published a list of key cities that Ukrainian officials said were under attack on Friday:\r\n\r\n\r\n\tThere was substantial damage to the airport at Lutsk in northwestern Ukraine, which is only about 70 miles (about 112 kilometers) from the Polish border.\r\n\tThe governor of the Volyn region said four missiles had been fired from a Russian bomber and two people were killed.\r\n\tThe military airfield at Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine was struck by missiles.\r\n\tA missile strike on the outskirts of Dnipro killed one civilian and damaged a primary school building, apartment buildings, and a shoe factory.\r\n\tThere were also overnight airstrikes in the Brovary district just east of Kyiv and a missile strike in the town of Baryshivka, some 45 miles (about 72 kilometers) east of the capital.\r\n\tA soccer stadium and library in\u0026nbsp;Chernihiv,\u0026nbsp;a city in northern Ukraine, have been badly damaged by an airstrike.\r\n\r\n\r\nMeanwhile, in what the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry denounced as a \u0022war crime,\u0022 Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov has been detained for an investigation that the Russian-backed Luhansk regional prosecutor said related to alleged terrorism offenses.\r\n\r\nIn a Facebook post, the ministry said that \u0022we call on the international community to respond immediately to the abduction of Ivan Fedorov and other civilians, and to increase pressure on Russia to end its barbaric war against the Ukrainian people.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWhile continuing to heed experts\u0026#039; warnings that implementing a no-fly zone over Ukraine—as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has advocated—would exacerbate the war on a global scale, the U.S. and European governments have taken various other steps over the past two weeks to pressure Putin to end the assault.\r\n\r\nZelenskyy tweeted Friday that he had a \u0022substantive conversation\u0022 with U.S. President Joe Biden, during which the Ukrainian leader provided an \u0022assessment of the situation on the battlefield\u0022 and information \u0022about the crimes of Russia against the civilian population.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022We agreed on further steps to support the defense of Ukraine and increase sanctions,\u0022 Zelenskyy said, while Biden called for suspending normal trade relations with Russia and announced the United States would ban imports of diamonds, seafood, and vodka from the invading nation.