He said he felt deep sorrow at the suffering of civilians on Kyiv’s outskirts.
“In particular my heart is in anguish for my Kyiv Archeparchy. Vicious battles are taking place in the suburbs of Kyiv,” he said.
“Three cities have become extensive and horrible battlefields, literally several tens of kilometers from the center of Kyiv. These are Irpin, Hostomel, and Bucha.”
Shevchuk said he had learned that the head of the city council of Hostomel, a town northwest of Kyiv, was killed while distributing food and medicine.
He lamented the absence of safe “green” routes for civilians seeking to leave cities surrounded by Russian forces and called for a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
“Unfortunately, all talk of green corridors for the possibility of evacuating people from cities that are suffering the most from siege and bombardment is not coming true,” he said.
“Today we ask the world community: ‘Close the sky over Ukraine!’”
The major archbishop observed that Monday marked the start of Great Lent for Ukrainian Christians who follow the Julian calendar.
“Today we pray, fast, and do good works,” he said.
Shevchuk concluded his message with a prayer.
“We pray today for the Ukrainian army. We bless our volunteers, all those who bring the day of victory closer,” he said.
(Story continues below)
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“O God, bless Ukraine! O God, bless the Ukrainian nation! O God, save Your people and bless Your inheritance!”
“May the blessing of the Lord be upon you through His grace and love for humankind, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”