LVIV, Ukraine — The head of the independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine challenged the international community to “take action so that Russia immediately stops the barbaric ruination of Ukrainian cities, villages and their population.”

Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kyiv said Ukraine’s peaceful population was suffering because of the Russian invasion.

“The enemy is intentionally ruining the infrastructure, destroying civilian dwellings and is killing and terrorizing the peaceful population,” he said in a letter published by the press service of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine on March 8.

The metropolitan especially cited the situation in Mariupol, which is blocked by Russian forces. The Associated Press has reported corpses lie in the city’s streets, evacuations of civilians have failed and the Russians fired on an aid convoy that was supposed to be traveling through a humanitarian corridor.

“The Ukrainian people would like to understand, why is there a system of international law, why do the United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe exist, why are the words ‘Never Again’ reiterated every May 8th?” the metropolitan asked.

“Today the legal forms are being trampled, Russia is intentionally mocking the mechanisms of the U.N. and OSCE, and all that we have read and heard from the witnesses of World War II in Europe is occurring again,” he said.

The metropolitan noted that cities were being attacked from the air as well as by conventional artillery.

“I pray for the souls of the innocent who have perished. I ask that all people of good will join in these prayers,” he said.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine Feb. 24, at least 2 million people — nearly half of them children — have fled the country. Although Russia controls large areas in the south of the country, Ukrainians have faced strong resistance in other areas.