How Russia Weaponises The Language Issue In Ukraine


For centuries, Ukraine’s long struggle for statehood has been mirrored by the often troubled fate of the Ukrainian language. Oppressed and marginalised throughout the Czarist and Soviet eras, Ukrainian finally shed its second-class status in 1991 to become the official state language of newly independent Ukraine. However, the story did not end there.

Despite the upgrade of Ukrainian following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the language has continued to play second fiddle to Russian throughout much of the country and in many aspects of everyday life. Ever since the 1990s, efforts to regulate and promote the use of Ukrainian in place of Russian have proved politically explosive and have come to symbolise independent Ukraine’s post-Soviet identity crisis. Meanwhile, the national debate on the language issue has reflected lingering divisions within Ukrainian society over attitudes towards the dominant role played by Russia in the country’s past.

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