I was very fortunate to have my grandma teach me the Russian alphabet mostly by providing me with some old manuals, and though I did not learn much in terms of vocabulary, I learned enough to find it a rather simple language - which, nonetheless, needs its share of practice and memorization.
You might be surprised to learn that the Russian alphabet ..
..although both languages have evolved from Proto-Slavic.
There are quite a few differences between the two languages, but in memory of my grandma, I thought I should list the alphabet differences:
1. Ґ in Ukrainian
The Ukrainian alphabet has Ґ ґ, but Russian doesn’t (in Russian, г represents the sound /g/).
2. І in Ukrainian
The Ukrainian alphabet has І і, but the Russian one doesn’t (in Russian, it’s и to represent /i/).
3. Ы in Russian
The Russian alphabet has ы, but the Ukrainian one doesn’t (in Ukrainian, it’s и to represent /y/).
4. Є in Ukrainian
The Ukrainian alphabet has Є є, but the Russian one doesn’t (in Russian, е represents /je/).
5. Ї in Ukrainian
The Ukrainian alphabet has Ї ї, but Russian doesn’t (in Russian, it’s a combination йи to represent /ji/).
6. Ё in Russian
The Russian alphabet has Ё ё, but Ukrainian doesn’t (in Ukrainian, it’s a combination йо to represent /jo/)
7. ъ in Russian
The Russian alphabet has the hard sign (ъ), but Ukrainian doesn’t (in Ukrainian, the apostrophe is used instead (’).
Here's the Russian alphabet in non-image version.Besides the alphabet, the Russian language is quite simple: unlike English, you read exactly as you write (a written word can only be read/pronounced in one way) and the verbs and nouns don't change much, making grammar very simple. Verbs are even often omitted!
Update 2022.02 - given the invasion of Ukraine by Putin's Russia and the latter's SF essay on unity (mirror: PtnUAru), I am looking at a few more videos on language differences made by Russians (Eli from Russia in 1 year ago, Ru-Land and Real Russian in 2018, I-speak-Ru in 2020) and articles or essays:
GreekReporter: 62% lexical similarity, similar to German vs English at 60%
FolkWays: "English and Dutch are lexically more similar at 63% in shared common characteristics, which is more than Russian and Ukrainian"
Babbel: "By the mid 17th century, there were huge differences between Russian and Ukrainian: while Russian was being spoken around Moscow, Ukrainian territories were being torn between multiple countries (such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Rzeczpospolita, the ancestor of modern Poland). This really influenced the languages, with Ukrainian mixing in some Polish, Hungarian, Austrian and Romanian grammar and vocabulary. Russian, on the other hand, evolved steadily into the modern form we know now. "
Autolingual: "Despite the proximity of the two languages, they aren’t mutually intelligible, and speakers of the two languages will often have to rely on Russian, which is a language that most Ukrainians speak in addition to Ukrainian. "
Reddit: "Ukrainian sounds like a native Russian speaker is having a stroke. "