The Ukrainian Language in the Temporarily Occupied Territories (2014–October 2022)


  • Michael Moser



Russian war in Ukraine, Ukrainian language, Russian language, language policy, Crimea


The protection of the Russian language and Russian “compatriots” has been a major issue of Russian political discourse for years. According to Russian official announcements, it was even a major reason for Russian war activities in Ukraine. In 2014, the Russian Federation introduced its language policy in Crimea and began to control the language policy of Donetsk and Luhansk “People’s Republics.” Both Russian and Ukrainian, as well as other languages, have been affected by these measures. Since 24 February 2022, Russian language policy has entered new temporarily occupied territories. Although Ukrainian has occasionally been declared a “state language” in Crimea, in DNR and LNR and then either been deprived of this status (LNR, DNR) or not (Crimea) it has never actually played this role. On the contrary, it has gradually been removed from the public sphere. Announcements regarding the language policy in recently occupied territories have been contradictory for months. Generally, Russian political discourse regarding the Ukrainian language is still based on traditional double-bind strategies. Official “appreciation for the Ukrainian language” is notoriously accompanied with narratives about the “artificiality” of the Ukrainian language, its “uselessness,” and even its virtually inherent “Nazi ideology.” At present, new textbooks of “the classical Ukrainian language” are allegedly being prepared in the Russian Federation. Historians of the Ukrainian language are curious how this unheard-of language might be designed.