Do Ukrainians speak Russian?
According to the latest survey, as of March 2022, 78% of Ukrainians considered the Ukrainian language their native, while 20% named Russian. Around 30% of people speak both Russian and Ukrainian at home — they can understand both languages and use them interchangeably also in different spheres of life.
The war makes more people in Ukraine learn about the origins of Russian-speaking surrounding in contemporary Ukraine. The Russian language was imposed forcefully on the Ukrainian land through the politics of “russification” and “assimilation” during the Russian Empire and USSR. Long-term imperial propaganda created a perception of Ukrainian as a language of the periphery. As a consequence of living in the mostly Russian-speaking surrounding, Russian has been used as a first language in families even later, during the period of Ukrainian independence. Moreover, there had been Russian-speaking or bilingual TV- and radio broadcasts.
However, the usage of languages has developed in favour of Ukrainian due to the Russian atrocities against Ukraine since 2014. Many choose to switch to Ukrainian as they would not like to be associated with the aggressor and wish to cut ties with Russia. Thanks to the legal regulations, tangible differences could be seen in the cultural sphere: more often, Ukrainian-language music could be heard on the TV and radio, and the book market presented more Ukrainian-language books.