Time Magazine names Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and “the spirit of Ukraine” as the Person of the Year for 2022.
For the past months, Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people endured hardships from the relentless attacks launched by the Russian government. That proves why many might not become surprised by Time’s decision to vest the two with the title. Time created the Person of the Year title to honor people who contributed to society. And with Zelenskyy’s leadership amid the war, Time decided to highlight him this year.
“When he was growing up, his father worked as a systems manager in the copper mines of Mongolia, and the trips to visit him would take eight days on the railroad from their hometown of Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine, passing all the way through Russia and Siberia,” wrote Time.
“He remembers the journeys fondly—the vast expanses of the Soviet empire rolling by, the glasses of tea served in metal cup holders embossed with the hammer and sickle. It is among the many ironies of his predicament that Zelensky was raised in the empire whose revival he is now fighting to stop.”
“Zelensky’s success as a wartime leader has relied on the fact that courage is contagious. It spread through Ukraine’s political leadership in the first days of the invasion, as everyone realized the President had stuck around. If that seems like a natural thing for a leader to do in a crisis, consider historical precedent,” it continued.
Time honors Zelenskyy and the Ukrainians
Time magazine’s cover shows a photo of Zelenskyy. And Ukrainians surrounded his enormous portrait, including bright sunflowers and Ukrainian flags. According to Time, the photo symbolized Zelenskyy’s bravery despite Russia’s overwhelming military strength. In February, the Ukrainian leader refused to evacuate from the country and faced the crisis head-on. Instead, he stayed in his country with his people to fight for their territory.
“[Zelenskyy] was adaptable, trained not to lose his nerve under pressure. He knew how to read a crowd and react to its moods and expectations. Now his audience was the world. He was determined not to let them down,” wrote Simon Shuster, a Time reporter.
More than the nation’s leader, Time underscored the people who played their part in the war. Time revealed that recently Zelenskyy became pressured to deal with the war. As a result, according to sources, Zelenskyy took on a more strict and aggressive behavior, a far cry from his usual chattiness and quirky self.
“If the choices their President articulated gave moral clarity to an era we’d mostly been scrolling through, it was people who gave it meaning by acting,” added Time.
“Instead of running for their lives, many Ukrainians grabbed whatever weapons they could find and ran to defend their towns and cities against an invading force armed with tanks and attack helicopters.”
Other candidates chosen by Time
Time chose Zelenskyy out of 10 candidates for Person of the Year. The publication shortlisted other prominent people, including Chinese leader Xi Jinping, US Representative Liz Cheney, Elon Musk, the US Supreme Court, Janet Yellen, the Iran protesters, Ron DeSantis, and gun safety advocates, among others.
Russia not willing to give up
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated his intention to continue his war. The Russian forces suffered massive losses in critical Ukrainian regions their opponent reclaimed. Experts suggest that Russia could lose the war if the trend continues. However, Putin said they would not back down from the fight. Instead, he expects a protracted war that could go down to a nuclear confrontation.
“With regard to the protracted nature of the special military operation and its results, of course, it’s going to take a while, perhaps,” Putin said.
“As for the idea that Russia wouldn’t use such weapons first under any circumstances. Then it means we wouldn’t be able to be the second to use them either. Because the possibility to do so in case of an attack on our territory would be very limited,” he added.
“Nevertheless, we have a strategy. Namely, as a defense, we consider weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons – it is all based around the so-called retaliatory strike. That is, when we are struck, we strike in response.”
Zelenskyy will protect his country
In an extended interview with Time, Zelenskyy talked about several things, including his mission to protect Ukraine. Zelenskyy said that the Ukrainian people will always fight for their rights in the face of adversity. Recently, Ukraine won the battle of Kherson, marking another strategic win for the Ukrainian forces.
“That was not yet a final point in the fight against evil, but it already determined the further course of events. That is exactly what we are feeling now. Now, Kherson is free,” revealed Zelenskyy to the Time reporter.
“The battle to liberate Kherson was over, he announced, and it was reminiscent of history’s great military victories, like the Allied landing at Normandy on D-Day, which turned the tide of World War II,” said the reporter.
“But his vision of victory now extends beyond the liberation of territory. In our interview on the way back from Kherson, Zelensky stressed that this year’s invasion is just the latest Russian attempt over the past century to subjugate Ukraine. His intention is to make it the last, even if it takes a lot more Time and sacrifice. It is far too early to gauge whether that goal can be reached, Zelensky told me,” concluded the reporter.