On the 16th day of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces were encircling at least four major cities Friday and inched closer towards the city limits of Kyiv.

The capital remains under Ukrainian control but is increasingly at risk of being surrounded, with many observers believing Russia is still aiming to capture the city despite slow progress and intense resistance.

Here is a summary of the situation on the ground, based on statements from both sides, Western defence and intelligence sources and international organisations.

Kharkiv remains in Ukrainian hands despite increasingly intense Russian bombardment, according to Western sources, and the city is now surrounded.

A US defence official said Russian troops were just outside the city.

Russian forces were also pressing an offensive through the separatist Donetsk and Lugansk regions that are backed by Russia and seeking to join up with Russian forces who entered from the north.

The city of Sumy in northeast Ukraine is now encircled by Russian troops but thousands of civilians have been able to leave through a humanitarian corridor.

Kyiv remains under Ukrainian control despite heavy bombardments, but observers say Russian forces are still slowly advancing ever closer towards the city.

The northwest suburbs, including Irpin and Bucha, have already endured days of heavy bombardment but Russian armoured vehicles are also advancing on the northeastern edge.

The British defence ministry warned that after limited progress in the last days, Russia is likely to reset for renewed offensives, "probably" including operations against Kyiv.

But US think tank Institute for the Study of War said the "likelihood is increasing" that Ukrainian forces could hold Russian forces "to a standstill" around the city.

Map of Ukraine locating areas where major explosions, strikes and fighting have been reported and under Russian control. Updated as of March 8, 2022, at 2000 GMT
Map of Ukraine locating areas where major explosions, strikes and fighting have been reported and under Russian control. Updated as of March 8, 2022, at 2000 GMT AFP / Kenan AUGEARD

Ukrainian forces also retain control of the northern town of Chernihiv, which has seen heavy civilian casualties in recent days and appears to be encircled.

Russia has besieged the strategic city of Mariupol, and attempts to evacuate an estimated 200,000 civilians from the city have so far failed.

The children's and maternity hospital in Mariupol was attacked on Wednesday in what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described as a Russian "war crime".

The major port city of Odessa remains under Ukrainian control and has so far been spared fighting. But the US Defence Department said Russian ground forces appeared primed to attack the city, possibly in coordination with an amphibious assault.

Russian forces last week took the southern city of Kherson, just north of Crimea, and there is now heavy fighting for control of the city of Mykolayiv to the northwest.

The US defence official said Russian forces were now just 15 kilometres to the north of Mykolayiv.

The west of Ukraine remains largely spared from the fighting. The main city of Lviv has become a hub for foreign diplomatic missions and journalists as well as Ukrainians seeking safety or wanting to leave the country.

Three missiles hit civilian buildings in the central city of Dnipro, destroying a shoe factory and killing a security guard. The city had been considered a safe haven, becoming a hub for the coordination of humanitarian aid.

The United Nations said Thursday that it had recorded 549 civilian deaths in Ukraine, including 41 children, though the actual toll could be far higher.

Ukraine and Western sources claim that the Russian death toll is far higher than Moscow has so far admitted.

Ukraine says more than 12,000 Russian soldiers have been killed, though US estimates put the number of Russians killed at 2,000 to 4,000.

Russia's only official toll, announced last week, said 498 Russian troops had been killed in Ukraine.

Over 2.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the invasion began, more than half going to Poland, according to the UN refugee agency.