Ukraine-Russia: Where is Kyiv? When Kiev changed to Kyiv, is Kyiv same as Kiev and Kiev or Kyiv pronunciation?
Russia’s assault on neighbouring Ukraine has intensified as fighting continues in Kyiv. But where is Kyiv, when did it change from Kiev and why has the pronunciation changed?
In the wake of Tuesday’s strike on Kyiv’s TV tower, killing at least five people and damaging a nearby holocaust memorial, President Zelenskyy warned of “history repeating” itself while the world watches on.
A 40 mile long military convoy was spotted approaching the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday (March 1) as cluster munition attacks and alleged use of thermobaric weapons by Russia continue to be seen despite denials from Russian military leaders.
Since the full scale invasion began on Thursday February 24, explosions have been seen in Kyiv, as well as in Odessa and Kharkiv.
Here’s what you need to know as Kyiv and its difference to ‘Kiev’ pronunciation and spelling.
Where is Kiev?
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital, the most-populated city in Ukraine and the seventh-most populous city in Europe as well as one of the oldest.
The population, as of January 2021, was 2,962,180.
It is situated in the north-central area of Ukraine on the Dnieper River on the edge of the Polesia woodland area.
Kyiv is surrounded by the Kyiv Oblast (administrative region).
The city has grown up on both banks of the Dnieper.
Why has Kiev become Kyiv?
The city’s Ukrainian name, written in the Ukrainian Cyrillic alphabet, is Ки́їв.
When written in the Latin alphabet is it regularly referred to it by it's romanized name Kiev or Kyiv.
The name itself is understood to be a composite word literally meaning ‘Kyi's Castle’, named for the founder of the city.
In Norse sources, Kyiv has been called Kœnugarðr.
Kiev has been the historic English-language name for the city, but its usage in the West is now dwindling because it is based on a historical Russian derivation of the name.
The growing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has, in part, prompted a shift to the official romanized title Kyiv.
When did Kiev change to Kyiv?
After Ukraine’s 1991 independence, regulations were introduced about the national guidance for transliterating place names from Cyrillic to Latin alphabets.
The rules applied to legislative and official acts and documents from Ukrainian officials, and was a clear sign of the spelling intended to be used. The guidance called for Kyiv as the official name.
The spelling has now officially replaced Kiev in all English-speaking foreign diplomatic missions and governments around the world, including across the EU.
In 2018, the #CorrectUA campaign to promote the official spellings of Ukrainian places was launched by the Foreign Ministry in an effort to correct ‘outdated, Soviet-era’ monikers.
How to pronounce Kyiv
The pronunciation of Kyiv is subtly different from the Russia-derived name for the city.
Whereas Kiev was pronounced by English speakers as KEY-EV, the proper way to say the Ukrainian capital’s name is KEE-EVE.
Nina Jankowicz, a fellow at the Wilson Center and former Ukrainian Foreign Ministry comms adviser, has spoken about the importance of correct pronunciation.
"How we describe Ukraine and Ukrainians and their cities is paramount to how the world perceives Ukraine," says Jankowicz, who wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post in 2019 and tweeted this video too.
"And part of that perception," she says, "is about you describing Ukraine as its own distinct entity, not as a part of this alleged sphere of influence that Vladimir Putin wants to resurrect, in which all Slavic countries are part of a giant brotherhood and he is the king of them."
Additional reporting by PA
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