About “The” Ukraine

Joe Brunoli
2 min readJan 21

There was a reason why we used the definite article.

When I was younger, we always referred to the country we now call Ukraine as “The Ukraine.” that is because the word “Ukraine” comes from the Slavic word “Ukraina” — which means “borderlands” (the word is the same in both Russian and Polish). So it was never really its own country.

Both the Russians and the Poles called it “the borderlands”.

Italian map of “European Tartaria” (1684). Dnieper Ukraine is marked as “Vkraine or the land of Zaporozhian Cossacks” (Vkraina o Paese de Cosacchi di Zaporowa). In the east there is “Vkraine or the land of Don Cossacks, who are subject to Muscovy” (Vkraina overo Paese de Cosacchi Tanaiti Soggetti al Moscovita).
Joe Brunoli

Joe is a Yank with dual US-EU citizenship, who has a base in the States but travels Europe extensively, commenting on trends, attitudes, politics and more.