Kyiv not Kiev

Most readers will have learned the capital of Ukraine as Kiev (pronounced Kee-ev). However, the Ukrainian spelling of Kyiv (pronounced Keev) is becoming much more common. The spelling Kiev is a holdover from the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, and the Ukrainian government has used Kyiv since 1995. In 2012, the United Nations agreed to adopt Kyiv as the standard form for the name of the city. Since the 2014 Russian invasion of Crimea, it has gained increasing worldwide acceptance, especially in the last few months since the February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Kyiv is not the only name to reflect the differences between Russia and Ukraine. The Christianizer of Rus is known as Vladimir (like Putin) in Russia and Volodymyr (like Zelensky) in Ukraine. These linguistic changes are not modern affectations but reflect the split between the Russian and Ukrainian languages that happened many centuries ago.

(c) Richard Thomson (

The above explanation, by Christian Raffensperger, is featured in the current issue of Medieval World: Culture & Conflict, which looks at the rich history and cultural heritage of Kyivan Rus.

Raffensperger has authored the opening historical overview of the region. Other accessible content by this author, includes:

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