Ever since the conquest of most of the territory of Ukraine in the 18th century, the Russian Empire, followed by the Soviet Union, had tried to assimilate the Ukrainian nation and make it part of Russia through repression and genocidal measures. However, Russia’s ostensibly largest success — massive Russification of Ukraine’s southeast in the 20th century – faded away after the February 2022 Russian invasion. Residents of what is usually termed “Russian-speaking Ukraine” are starting to speak Ukrainian en masse, even in regions where Ukrainian had lost its dominant position decades ago.
Following the Russian invasion, 41% of Russian-speakers in Ukraine have switched to either fully or partially speaking the Ukrainian language. This trend is especially prominent in the southeast, where the Ukrainians Putin claims await liberation by Russian troops have started attending language courses to make the jump quicker. Ukrainian is gradually becoming the language of prestige and business, reversing a centuries-long trend of Russification as an imperial tool.