The eastern regions, which are run by Russian-backed separatists, include land currently held by the Ukrainian armed forces.
Ukraine is a country of 44 million people bordering Belarus, Russia, Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland.
According to BBC News, on Thursday Russian military crossed into Ukraine not only from points on the Russian border, but also from Belarus, a Russian ally.
Shevchuk leads the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the biggest of the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See.
“This Church,” he said, “which has already survived death and resurrection, as the Body of the Risen Christ, over which death has no power, the Lord gave to his people in the baptismal waters of the Dnipro River,” he said.
“Since then, the history of our people and its Church, the history of their liberation struggles, the history of the incarnation of God’s Word and the manifestation of His Spirit of truth in our culture have intertwined forever,” the archbishop continued.
“And in this dramatic moment, our Church, as a mother and teacher will be with its children, will protect them and serve them in the name of God! In God is our hope and our victory will come from Him!”
“Today we solemnly proclaim: ‘Our soul and body offer we for our freedom!’ With one heart we pray: ‘Lord, Great and Almighty, protect our beloved Ukraine!’”
According to a communication from the archbishop’s secretariat, Shevchuk has taken cover in an air-raid shelter under the Cathedral of the Resurrection in Kyiv, together with others, the news website Il Sismografo reported.
“The city of Kyiv at this time is under bombardment by the Russian army. As you will understand, His Beatitude is not reachable at this time and cannot make any statements. Alongside his people, His Beatitude asks you to join him and his people in prayers that Ukraine will be preserved from unjust aggression,” the statement said.
“The priority, for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, is, and always will be, closeness to the wounded population. Let us pray for Ukraine,” it concluded.
This story was updated at 8:30 a.m. with the statement on Shevchuk's whereabouts.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter