Perception of Ukraine in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


June-December 2021


Great Britain 

Conducted by

Foreign Policy Council “Ukrainian Prism”

Lead researchers

Hanna Shelest, Serhiy Gerasymchuk

About this project

The perception of Ukraine in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is part of a comprehensive project to study the perception of Ukraine and Ukrainian culture abroad in a number of countries identified as priority and important in the Ukrainian Institute’s Strategy for 2020-2024.

For the first time, the project explores the attitudes and expectations of foreign audiences regarding Ukraine, its culture and opportunities for cooperation, their awareness of modern culture and cultural heritage of Ukraine.

The research was carried out by the method of in-depth expert interviews with representatives of foreign institutions in the field of culture, education, science, civil society, as well as local and central authorities, the diplomatic corps, international organizations, the Ukrainian professional environment abroad and foreign Ukrainians.

The results of the research made it possible to determine the most popular formats of cultural diplomacy projects at the bilateral level and develop work plans for the Ukrainian Institute.


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Ukraine’s perception in the UK

  • When in the political domain, Ukraine has emerged on the UK’s agenda, in the domain of culture, Ukraine has hardly shifted from being a terra incognita for UK society. Political news leaves little space for the coverage of cultural projects, which mostly remain the priority of cultural institutions and niche audiences.
  • The Maidan remains the most notable reference to Ukraine as an example of the victory of democracy and power of the people.
  • Commitment to democratic values and readiness to fight for them, resistance against Russia, integration into global cultural processes (such as Eurovision), and success in sports (football and boxing) create a favourable ground for reassessing the image of Ukraine in the United Kingdom.
  • At the same time, negative references about Ukraine such as as the crisis, war, and corruption are present in the UK. Sometimes they are exaggerated, but they resonate and stay in memory for a long time due to their lingering presence in the media and Russia’s efforts to promote such narratives.
  • Most British interviewees attribute Ukrainian culture to the family of European cultures, mainly with an accent on East Europeanness and a mix of European and Asian cultural elements.
  • A trace of the post-Soviet lingers in the perception of Ukrainian culture. It is not seen as something absolutely negative in the UK. Instead, it is rather seen as part of the country’s history and a certain impact of the metropole. Most interviewees did not want to fit Ukrainian culture into one narrow civilizational framework, noting instead that it is unique and multi-layered due to Ukraine’s history and geographic location.
  • The analysis of perceptions by the professional community, especially academics or cultural agents, who have visited Ukraine or worked with Ukrainian institutions, shows that involvement in the Ukrainian context helps shape a clearer image of Ukraine and its culture, but still, perceptions remain somewhat eclectic.

Participants of public discussion on the research