- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Time’s “Person of the Year,” the magazine said Wednesday.

The magazine said Mr. Zelenskyy will share the distinction with the “Spirit of Ukraine.”

The issue’s cover shows a large image of Mr. Zelenskyy in his trademark army-green garb and fellow Ukrainians with blue-and-yellow flags and gold sunflowers, a national symbol.

Mr. Zelenskyy won plaudits from around the world for his bravery and national spirit after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine in February.

He famously told Western leaders, “I don’t need a ride, I need more ammunition,” after partner nations offered to get him out of Kyiv, the capital.

Instead, he defiantly remained and is frequently photographed in his green T-shirts showing camaraderie with Ukrainian people and forces. He frequently speaks with President Biden and other leaders to plead for weapons and other assistance.

Each year, Time profiles a person, group or idea that has done the most to influence events in the preceding year. The distinction is not considered an award but an acknowledgment of the person’s impact. For instance, Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin were named in the early 20th century.

Recent persons of the year included climate activist Greta Thunberg in 2019, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in 2020, and entrepreneur Elon Musk in 2021.

Time named Mr. Putin as its person of the year in 2007.

Ukrainian forces have defied the odds and resisted Russian fighters, pushing them back from Ukraine and freeing Kherson as intense fighting continues in eastern regions.

The article in Time describes how Mr. Zelenskyy took a big risk by visiting Kherson after its liberation.

“My security was 100% against it,” Mr. Zelenskyy said. “They took it hard. They can’t control practically anything in a region that has just been de-occupied. So it’s a big risk, and, on my part, a bit reckless.”

The Time profile describes how Mr. Zelenskyy confronted war after a relatively short time in office. He became president in 2019, though his courage proved to be “contagious,” the magazine said.

“It spread through Ukraine‘s political leadership in the first days of the invasion, as everyone realized the president had stuck around,” the article said. “If that seems like a natural thing for a leader to do in a crisis, consider historical precedent. Only six months earlier, the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani — a far more experienced leader than Zelensky— fled his capital as Taliban forces approached. In 2014, one of Zelensky’s predecessors, Viktor Yanukovych, ran away from Kyiv as protesters closed in on his residence; he still lives in Russia today.”

Mr. Zelenskyy‘s background as a comic actor is described as an unlikely asset. He was forced to read the Ukrainian audience’s mood and adapt to it. Some of his friends miss his boyish, jovial side.

“But they realize he needs to be different now, much harder and deaf to distractions, or else his country might not survive,” reporter Simon Shuster wrote.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy‘s last name in one instance.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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