Disinfo: Oppression of the Russian language provoked war in Donbas


Language is what provoked the war [in Donbas]. When this happened, why did they adopt the law banning the Russian language when we have an 85% to 90% Russian-speaking population?


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the war in Ukraine, the Euromaidan and the status of the Russian language in Ukraine.

The war in Eastern Ukraine was provoked by the pro-Russian separatists and the mercenaries funded and supported directly by Russia. There is irrefutable evidence of direct Russian military involvement in Eastern Ukraine. The international community, including the European Union, recognises and condemns clear violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014 when Russia intervened in Crimea and annexed the Ukrainian peninsula on March 16, 2014.

The war was not provoked by language issues. On the contrary, many Ukrainian citizens from the predominantly Russian speaking Southern and Eastern oblasts actively participated in the events in the Euromaidan and supported the European integration of Ukraine. According to a survey, 27% of Euromaidan participants were Russian speakers and 18% were bilinguals.

It is not true that 85-90% of the Ukrainian population is Russian-speaking. According to the latest survey, 27% of Ukrainian citizens use the Russian language in their everyday communication; the Ukrainian language is preferred by 51% of Ukrainians and 21% are bilinguals.

The law on regional languages was repealed by the parliament of Ukraine on February 23, 2014. However, the decree was not signed. The law officially expired only on February 28, 2018, when the Constitutional Court of Ukraine declared the law unconstitutional. Additionally, the Constitution of Ukraine protects the languages of national minorities.


  • Reported in: Issue 175
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 20/11/2019
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Ukraine
  • Keywords: Eastern Ukraine, Russian language, War in Ukraine, Donbas


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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