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Why Kyiv instead of Kiev? How the US government dropped Soviet-era name

The conflict in Ukraine has raised questions about President Joe Biden’s foreign policy, Vladimir Putin’s grasp on reality and whether the West can maintain unity in the face of Kremlin provocation.

But for some social media users it has raised another conundrum: What’s in a name? 

For years ‘Kiev’ was known as the capital of Ukraine, but headlines now scream ‘Kyiv,’ while US leaders are using the unfamiliar pronunciation ‘KEE-eve’ rather than ‘KEE-yev.’

What’s going on? 

Both are the result of converting the Cyrillic alphabet into the Roman alphabet – but contained within that are deep geopolitical controversies. 

‘It’s very simple,’ said John Herbst, former US ambassador to Ukraine.

‘Kiev is the English transliteration from the Russian; Kyiv is the English transliteration from…


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