For demonstrating the truth that courage does not run, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been named Time’s “Person of the Year” — along with what Time called the “spirit of Ukraine.”
“The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride,” Zelenskyy was widely quoted as saying two days after the Feb. 24 Russian invasion of Ukraine began when he was offered to be evacuated. At the time many observers predicted Russia’s invasion would be a cakewalk that might not even last a week.
More than nine months later, Ukraine’s resistance has attracted global support that has reached billions of dollars worth of weaponry and assistance while its ragtag blend of militia, troops and technology stalled the Russian advance and in some places has pushed Russian forces back.
Ukraine’s government hailed Time’s action on Twitter.
— Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) December 7, 2022
From Zelenskyy on down, Ukraine has shown that “courage can be as contagious as fear,” ignited “people and nations to come together in defense of freedom” and reminded the world “of the fragility of democracy,” Time wrote in explaining its decision.
In determining who deserved to be named “Person of the Year,” Time noted, “This year’s choice was the most clear-cut in memory.”
From Time’s perspective, Ukraine’s emergence from a side issue to a symbol of freedom began taking shape when Zelenskyy and his government’s top leaders refused to abandon the country.
Zelenskyy’s “decision not to flee Kyiv but to stay and rally support was fateful,” Time wrote.
“From his first 40-second Instagram post on Feb. 25 — showing that his Cabinet and civil society were intact and in place — to daily speeches delivered remotely to the likes of houses of Parliament, the World Bank, and the Grammy Awards, Ukraine’s president was everywhere. His information offensive shifted the geopolitical weather system, setting off a wave of action that swept the globe,” Time wrote.
Time praised Zelenskyy chiefly for crafting the Ukraine war as the last stand of democracy against brutal totalitarianism. The publication also noted that from civilians who have become heroes under fire to foreign nations that have strained their own resources to help Ukraine, the nation’s struggle against Russia has triggered an outpouring of unprecedented unity and sacrifice.
“Zelensky has been laser-focused on keeping the world’s eyes on Ukraine,” Time wrote, noting that a career in entertainment proved to be the best preparation for war.
“Zelensky’s command of the weapons of the digital age meant that business leaders and politicians everywhere were forced to take notice and take a stand, whether they liked it or not,” Time wrote.
— TIME (@TIME) December 7, 2022
Time noted that Zelenskyy is hardly flawless in his over-the-top efforts to ensure Ukraine remains front-page news and that his zeal for fighting may trigger global reverberations of destruction.
“Later we will be judged,” Time quoted him as saying.
In the meantime, Ukraine endures.
Alona Shkrum, an opposition lawmaker, said she never supported him in the past, but “We owe him the fact that we survived.”
On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the broad NATO support for Ukraine was a “serious threat” to Russia.
A “direct clash between nuclear powers with catastrophic consequences” is at risk, he said, according to CBS.
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