The Russian armed forces moved into Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Immediately and in the months following, millions of Ukrainians left their homes to seek a safe haven elsewhere. The dimensions of the Ukrainian refugee crisis are, in the words of Germany’s representative to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) Katherina Lumpp, “unprecedented… the refugee movement we are now seeing in Ukraine is unique. It is currently the second largest refugee[1] situation in the world. No situation has developed this rapidly since the Second World War” (Bauer, 2022). As of October 2023, the UN Refugee Agency has officially recorded 6,204,600 Ukrainian refugees (Ukraine Refugee Portal, UN Refugee Agency). In short, the Ukrainian refugee situation presents a dramatic need to accommodate millions of Ukrainians into host or transit countries. Among the many concerns are the cross-cultural differences Ukrainians face as they flee abroad to countries with which they are unfamiliar and whose people may be unacquainted with Ukrainian culture. To that end, the purpose of the current study is to focus on the cross-cultural communication challenges confronted by Ukrainian refugees and those in destination and transit countries interacting with them, such as hosts, paid and volunteer agency staff, school and learning personnel, potential and current employers, and co-workers. The key points covered by this research are cultural complexities; language and language dynamics; managing change; and, loss and grief.

Key Words: Ukraine, refugee, communication, culture, hosts, employers, crisis communication, multiculturalism, cross-cultural, emergency, Ukrainian-Russian conflict

[1] After the Syrian refugee crisis, although the Syrian war has gone on since 2012, growing over more than a decade, while the Ukrainian refugees have reached this size within a matter of months.