Kyiv is derived from the Ukrainian language name, whereas Kiev comes from the Russian language. Kyiv was officially adopted in 1995, but Kiev is still commonly used internationally.
The “KyivNotKiev” campaign was launched by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs four years ago, after the Russian annexation of Crimea – the idea was to distinguish the capital from its soviet past.
With Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine’s capital city, it is more important for those reporting on, or referencing the war on social media, to use the appropriate spelling of the city.
The Ukrainian government also promotes using Ukrainian spellings for its other cities including Kharkov, which should be Kharkiv, while Odessa should be Odesa and Lvov should be changed to Lviv.
Some were initially hesitant to adopt the Kyiv name change, viewing it as a political move or overly nationalistic, in line with why we don’t call Rome “Roma”. Conversely, certain post-colonial name changes have been widely accepted – like Bombay to Mumbai or Ceylon to Sri Lanka. In light of the recent Russia-Ukraine conflict, the name change reflects a strong political bias.
Publications including Reuters, CNN, BBC News, Al Jazeera, Daily Mail, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal…