Ukraine vs Russian Language
Ukraine vs Russian Language – Ukraine on a map of Europe

So, does Russia and Ukraine speak the same language?

Often it’s believed that the Russian language is the official language of Ukraine. This is not the case.

Ukrainian and Russian are two different languages and while many Ukrainians might speak Russian, their native tongue and the official language is unique.

Let me explain what Ukraine and Russian language have in common, or I should say Ukrainian and Russian languages. 

Ukraine vs Russian Language – Is Russian the official language of Ukraine?

No. Russian is not the official language of Ukraine. The official language is Ukrainian, but Russian is spoken by many people in Ukraine.

Russian vs Ukrainian languages – Where did they come from?

Both languages were originally dialects of the so-called Proto-Slavic language (2BC until the 6th century). Later on, both of them evolved as two individual languages.

Today, Ukrainian and Russian are part of the Slavic language group. There are more than 20 Slavic languages divided into three sub-categories.

  • East Slavic (like Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian) 
  • South Slavic (like Slovene, Croatian, Macedonian or Bulgarian)
  • West Slavic (like Polish, Czech or Slovak)
Ukraine vs Russian language tree of Slavic
The Slavic language tree Credit:

So before you ask, do they speak Russian in (insert any Eastern European country) the answer is NO.

They all have their own languages, including Ukraine. Only Belarus has Russian as one of the official languages alongside Belarusian. 

Ukrainian vs Russian – Are they similar?

Naturally, all Slavic languages have similarities and can help a native speaker understand the other languages to some extent, mostly specific words rather than the whole context. (Similiar to Spanish and Italian or Portuguese).

However, if you speak Ukrainian language, you will be more likely to understand Slovak or Polish than Russian, as Ukrainian has more similarities with West Slavic languages. 

Cyrillic in Ukraine
Ukraine vs Russian Language – Cyrillic script might be replaced in the future in Ukraine

Both languages use the Cyrillic alphabet

This is also the case for Belarusian, Serbian, Macedonian, and Bulgarian. 

While there has been talk of changing from Cyrillic to Latin alphabet in Ukraine to make the writing standardised with other countries in Europe, at this stage, it’s only an idea.

By the way, their Cyrillic alphabet is not the same, in fact, there are 7 differences when it comes to Ukraine vs Russian language Cyrillic script.

Kazakhstan, a country in Central Asia has announced transitioning from Cyrillic to Latin from 2023 until 2031

Ukraine vs Russian language typewriter
Does Russia and Ukraine speak the same language? Typewriter with Cyrillic script

The Summary of Ukraine vs Russian Language

As you can see both languages, Ukrainian and Russian share some history and are part of the same language group. 

However, Ukraine is an independent country with its own unique language, Ukrainian; which uses the Cyrillic alphabet (for now) and it is more similar to Polish and Slovak than Russia.

I hope you enjoyed this quick explanation of the Russian vs Ukraine language and the difference between them. Now, if someone asks the same question ”does Russia and Ukraine speak the same language?”, you’ll have the answers for them.

Let us know in the comments below if you have anything else to add.