Language situation and language policy in contemporary Ukraine

Dear friends,

Many readers ask me quite often which language – Ukrainian or Russian – should be taught in order to communicate with a woman from Ukraine. Can Ukrainian women really understand and speak Russian? What is the language situation in Ukraine today? Today we talk about the language situation and politics in contemporary Ukraine. And my answer to your question is you can surely learn Russian (in my opinion, Russian is not so difficult like Ukrainian and have many advantages as a global language).


It is obvious that the “language issue” is exceptionally painful in Ukraine. You will understand this issue if you really know the language situation in Ukraine today. The fact is that is difficult to find the world’s second country with such a deep and comprehensive bilingualism as Ukraine.

The language situation in Ukraine is quite complex and still incurs a lot of debates in the society and political scenario of the country. Ukrainian is the major state language; however a large section of the country speaks Russian and this particular issue seems to hinder the government’s Ukrainianisation policies.

The government considers that official Ukrainian language is the keystone of building the nation’s policies. But the Russian population has the demands to retain their language as a major language in the country. It is almost impossible to create a harmony between the two demands.

The issue of using different languages is surfacing at various levels in Ukraine which includes cinema and media. Quite recently a Ukrainian film named ‘Orange Sky’, depicting the political and social circumstances of the country during the Orange Revolution. The film stands out from the rest since both Russian and Ukrainian languages have been profoundly used in it to exhibit the exact situation. Several studies have been conducted to analyze this particular situation in Ukraine since the country became free in 1991. Usage of Russian and Ukrainian languages in the country varies depending on the geographical locations, social condition, rural or urban factor, generations and many more.

language situation in ukraine

Language situation in Ukraine

Image: The Ukrainian-speaking territory is marked orange. The area with Russian-speaking population in Ukraine is marked blue.

Certain policies created by the Ukrainian government have significantly boosted this debate between the Russian and Ukrainian speakers. The Ukrainianisation policy includes providing more support and benefits to the drama theatres speaking Ukrainian official languages, attractive subsidies for institutions practicing Ukrainian literature, better employment opportunity for university professors and teachers who are able to deliver lectures in Ukrainian language.

Also teachers in the schools are encouraged to speak to the children in Ukrainian. There are strict regulations governing the broadcasting of most television and radio shows in the country. All international films are dubbed in the Ukrainian language is another aspect of the policy. However these policies are mostly associated with public activities controlled by the states; it does not affect the private or commercial interactions.

The issue with the language situation is basically emotionally charged. Residents of western Ukraine do not consider the Russian influence on the country’s culture and languages positively. They consider the Russians oppressors and invaders who have imposed their language on the country’s social and cultural scene. This particular issue is often exploited by ideologues and politicians and it triggers the “us versus them” approach in common Ukrainians. Despite there are quite a few strong opponents, the concept of Ukrainianisation is certainly enjoying success of late.



Questions? Feel free to ask Krystyna, your Ukrainian dating expert 🙂 (s. here: Contact Krystyna)



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3 Responses

  1. Eric says:

    Dear Krystyna,

    I don’t know much about the history, but I guess one major problem is that the number of supporters on both sides are almost equal. In other countries, usually there will be a dominant side.

    I guess learning multiple languages is an advantage in the globalization. Even the British has invaded many different places all over the world, people still learn English because it is useful.


  2. hilto says:


    Now that’s an interesting article because we hawaiians are used to hearing various languages every day of the week all year long 🙂

    In my own family, my mother is a Somoan Filipina and my father is a Somoan and they both can speak Chinese, Somoan, and English. I can understand and speak a little bit of both Somoan and Chinese and of course I’m fluent in English. Now, I’m learning Russian so that when I find my future wife in Kharkov I’ll be able to speak to her family and friends; even if she is fluent in English 🙂

    So, I’ll be able to speak 4 languages in all. In america there seems to be a battle between English and Spanish. Spanish is the second most spoken language in America and so speaking it would do more good than harm and I don’t see the harm in learning a language that would put a person in position of being able to go to 13 other countries and being able to communicate with other people and opening yourself up to more opportunities. But, this is just me speaking from a hawaiian point of view. Mainland U.S.A, for the most part, don’t think this way 🙁

    That’s why, even though I have traveled to Missouri(sucks), Kansas(sucks), Nebraska(warren buffet is cool), and Oklahoma (I love the indian reservations 🙂 ) I have never wanted to live on mainland because, from my travels, nothing can compete with Hawaii( in neither the diversity of the people or the open mindedness of our society(we have no highway bill boards, no pollution, and fresh clean area year round with warm weather year round and greenery year round) 🙂

    I have never known none of my friends who were excited to visit Kansas, missouri, Florida or Omaha, Nebraska but I have known thousands of people who dream of visiting hawaii 🙂

    Mahalo from Hawaii,


  3. владимир слуцкер says:

    Hello everyone,
    i think, they must chose Russian language which has to be taught to the people. As its little bit easier to understand than Ukraine language,

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