Do Ukrainians tend to get offended if you call their country “the Ukraine”?
Those Ukrainians who fluently speak English and know the rules of usage of definite article “the” might get offended or consider your attitude disrespectful towards them when you call their country “the Ukraine”. It is so, because in this case usage of “the” means the country affiliation to some other state. During the USSR times Ukraine was among 15 countries that formed Soviet Union and was called the Ukrainian Soviet Socialistic Republic. In 1991 Ukraine has got independence and since that time it is politically incorrect to use the term “the Ukraine”.
One more reason for “the Ukraine” term is that there are no articles as parts of speech in Ukrainian language and many Ukrainian linguists translated and expressed their thoughts using “the Ukraine” term in their works and this only increased wrong usage. Many foreigners do not pay attention calling the country “the Ukraine” or Ukraine, though, the right variant is the second one. Article “the” is mostly used to countries with federal structure of administration like the United States of America, the Russian Federation etc. Grammatically, the United Kingdom or the United States of America are used with “the” article because those words are compound nouns with adjectives.
Most of reputable world newspapers, media and information Agencies use the word Ukraine without definite article “the”. In some cases “the” usage identifies Ukraine as the part of Russia and in shadow of that fact Ukrainians might be offended of such ignorant disrespectful attitude. When Ukraine became independent state even the White House officially announced since that time definite article will no longer be used before the country name Ukraine.
Will Ukrainians be offended when you say “the Ukraine”? The answer to this question could be different and depends on Ukrainian you meet. Some might get offended and will explain the right usage and why is it so. Some Ukrainians might not pay attention and you will not notice any reactions, some might think that you are bad educated. However, will Ukrainians get offended or not is personal question and answer depends but the thing is that right name for the country is Ukraine.