On 13 February, International London Luton Airport informed the Ukrainian Embassy in London that WizzAir airline started using the Ukrainian spelling Kyiv for the Ukrainian capital instead of the previously used Russian-transliterated version Kiev. This was reported Ukraine's Embassy to United Kingdom.
As part of #CorrectUA campaign, London Luton Airport has just informed that @wizzair henceforth uses the English orthographic spelling 'Kyiv' to denote the capital city of Ukraine. #KyivNotKiev @LDNLutonAirport pic.twitter.com/gJGWRRSHst— Ukraine's Emb. to UK (@UkrEmbLondon) February 13, 2019
Isn’t the spelling Kiev just historical like Prague instead of the Czech version Praha or Warsaw instead of Polish Warszawa or Rome for Italian Roma? Not in the Kyiv-Kiev case.
The Russian-style spelling, Kiev, came to English in the early 19th century in the tsarist times when Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire, later the same spelling was used internationally when Ukraine remained under the rule of the quasi-imperial Soviet state.
Thus, the Russian language remained only intermediary to other languages to convey the local geographical names of the nations colonized by the empire. That’s how the Romanian city of Chișinău became Kishinev, the Kazakh city of Aktobe turned into Aktyubinsk, and the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv came to be known as Kiev.
In the English versions of its official documents, the Kremlin keeps consistently using the Russian-style spelling for most of the geographical names in the territories of the post-Soviet countries to stress its aspirations to restore the collapsed empire or at least to mark the certain territories as the ones Russia desires to keep in its orbit of influence. In the Ukrainian case, such “anchors” are “Kiev,” “Lugansk,” “Lvov,” “Odessa” and so on.
Previously, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister launched the media campaign #CorrectUA to urge the world to use “Kyiv” instead of “Kiev”. The Ukrainian authorities also suggest that international media use purely Ukrainian spelling for such cities as Kharkiv, Odesa, Mykolaiv, and others, as well as 'Ukraine instead of the widespread mistake, 'the Ukraine'.