Eastern Ukraine

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Several Oblasts can be referred to as "Eastern Ukraine":
  Red - always included
  Orange - sometimes included
Ukraine KIIS-Regional-division2.png

Eastern Ukraine or East Ukraine (Ukrainian: Східна Україна, Skhidna Ukrayina) generally refers to territories of Ukraine east of the Dnieper river, particularly Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts. Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia oblasts sometimes are also regarded as Eastern Ukraine. Almost a third of the country's population lives within the region, which includes three cities with populations over a million. The major river of eastern Ukraine is Seversky Donets.


The territory is heavily urbanized and commonly associated with the Donbas. The three largest metropolitan cities form an industrial triangle within the region. Among the major cities are:

Historical political formations include the Crimean Khanate, Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic, Slavo-Serbia, Sloboda Ukraine, General-Government of New Russia and Bessarabia.

Oblast (Province) Ukrainian name Area in km2 Population at
2001 Census
Population at
2012 Estimate
Notes [1]
Donetsk Донецька область 26,517 4,825,563 4,403,178
Kharkiv Харківська область 31,418 2,914,212 2,742,180
Luhansk Луганська область 26,683 2,546,178 2,272,676
Total for 3 Oblasts 84,618 10,285,953 9,418,034
Zaporizhia Запорізька область 27,183 1,929,171 1,791,668
Dnipropetrovsk Дніпропетровська область 31,923 3,561,224 3,320,299
Total for 5 Oblasts 143,724 15,776,348 14,530,001

The Zaporizhia and Dnipropetrovsk Oblasts are more frequently associated with Southern Ukraine, although the western portion (the Kryvyi Rih basin) of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast is often included with Central Ukraine.


A large majority of voters in eastern Ukraine (83% or more in each oblast) approved Ukraine's declaration of independence in the 1991 referendum, although the numbers were not as high as in the west.[2][3]

In 2014, pro-Russian protests took place in parts of eastern Ukraine. Some of the protesters were "tourists" from Russia.[4][5] The War in Donbass resulted in thousands of deaths and over a million people leaving their homes.[6]

A 2007 survey by the Razumkov Centre asked "Would you like to have your region separated from Ukraine and joined another state?" In eastern Ukraine, 77.9% of respondents disagreed, 10.4% agreed, and the rest were undecided.[7] In a poll conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology in the first half of February 2014, 25.8% of those polled in East Ukraine believed "Ukraine and Russia must unite into a single state", nationwide this percentage was 12.5%.[8]

Culture and language[edit]

The majority of Eastern Ukraine's population are ethnic Ukrainians, while ethnic Russians form a significant minority. The most common language is Russian, having long dominated in government and the media. When Ukraine became independent, there were no Ukrainian-language schools in Donetsk.[9]

Ethnic Ukrainians in Ukraine by oblast (2001 census)
Population with Ukrainian as their native language in Ukraine by oblast (2001 census)

Noticeable cultural differences in the region (compared with the rest of Ukraine except Southern Ukraine) are more "positive views" on the Russian language[10][11] and on the Soviet era[12][13] and more "negative views" on Ukrainian nationalism.[12]

During elections voters of the Eastern (and Southern) oblasts (provinces) of Ukraine vote for parties (CPU, Party of Regions) and presidential candidates (Viktor Yanukovych) with a pro-Russian and status quo platform.[14][15][16] The electorate of CPU and Party of Regions is very loyal to them.[16]

Effective in August 2012, a new law on regional languages entitles any local language spoken by at least a 10% of the population be declared official within that area.[17] Within weeks, Russian was declared as a regional language in several southern and eastern oblasts and cities.[18] From that point Russian could be used in those cities'/oblasts' administrative office work and documents.[19] However, on 23 February 2014, the law on regional languages was abolished, making Ukrainian the sole state language at all levels even in Eastern Ukraine.[20] Nevertheless, this vote was vetoed by acting President Turchynov on March 2.[21][22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ All statistics sourced from: State Statistics Committee of Ukraine.
  2. ^ Ukrainian Nationalism in the 1990s: A Minority Faith by Andrew Wilson, Cambridge University Press, 1996, ISBN 0521574579 (page 128)
  3. ^ Ivan Katchanovski. (2009). Terrorists or National Heroes? Politics of the OUN and the UPA in Ukraine Paper prepared for presentation at the Annual Conference of the Canadian Political Science Association, Montreal, June 1–3, 2010
  4. ^ Roth, Andrew (4 March 2014). "From Russia, 'Tourists' Stir the Protests". The New York Times. 
    "Russian site recruits 'volunteers' for Ukraine". BBC News. 4 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "Protesters Storm Kharkiv Theater Thinking It Was City Hall". The Moscow Times. 8 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Ukraine Situation report No.33 as of 27 March 2015" (PDF). OCHA. 27 March 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  7. ^ "Would you like to have your region separated from Ukraine and joined another state (regional distribution)". Razumkov Centre. 18 June 2007. 
  8. ^ "How relations between Ukraine and Russia should look like? Public opinion polls’ results". Kyiv International Institute of Sociology. 4 March 2014. 
  9. ^ Eternal Russia:Yeltsin, Gorbachev, and the Mirage of Democracy by Jonathan Steele, Harvard University Press, 1988, ISBN 978-0-674-26837-1 (page 218)
  10. ^ The language question, the results of recent research in 2012, RATING (25 May 2012)
  11. ^ http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/poll-over-half-of-ukrainians-against-granting-official-status-to-russian-language-318212.html
  12. ^ a b Who’s Afraid of Ukrainian History? by Timothy D. Snyder, The New York Review of Books (21 September 2010)
  13. ^ (Ukrainian) Ставлення населення України до постаті Йосипа Сталіна Attitude population Ukraine to the figure of Joseph Stalin, Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (1 March 2013)
  14. ^ Communist and Post-Communist Parties in Europe by Uwe Backes and Patrick Moreau, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2008, ISBN 978-3-525-36912-8 (page 396)
  15. ^ Ukraine right-wing politics: is the genie out of the bottle?, openDemocracy.net (3 January 2011)
  16. ^ a b Eight Reasons Why Ukraine’s Party of Regions Will Win the 2012 Elections by Taras Kuzio, The Jamestown Foundation (17 October 2012)
    UKRAINE: Yushchenko needs Tymoshenko as ally again by Taras Kuzio, Oxford Analytica (5 October 2007)
  17. ^ Yanukovych signs language bill into law. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
  18. ^ Russian spreads like wildfires in dry Ukrainian forest. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
  19. ^ Romanian becomes regional language in Bila Tserkva in Zakarpattia region, Kyiv Post (24 September 2012)
  20. ^ Ukraine: Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov named interim president, BBC News (23 February 2014)
  21. ^ Traynor, Ian (24 February 2014). "Western nations scramble to contain fallout from Ukraine crisis". The Guardian. 
  22. ^ Kramer, Andrew (2 March 2014). "Ukraine Turns to Its Oligarchs for Political Help". New York Times. Retrieved 2 March 2014. 

Further reading[edit]