New York: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and “the spirit of Ukraine” have been declared as TIME’s ‘Person of the Year’ 2022 Wednesday.
“Zelenskyy has been called a hero by many in Ukraine and abroad, and over the last year, established himself as a symbol of defiance and democracy while he continues to lead the nation through Russia’s unprovoked attacks on his country,” a tweet on the Today Show said as the winner of the annual honour was announced on the network.
“Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Spirit of Ukraine are @TIME’s 2022 Person of the Year,” it tweeted.
TIME said 44-year-old 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 realised the President had stuck around. 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 Zelenskyy — fled his capital as Taliban forces approached. In 2014, one of Zelenskyy’s predecessors, Viktor Yanukovych, ran away from Kyiv as protesters closed in on his residence; he still lives in Russia today.”
Early in the Second World War, the leaders of Albania, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Poland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Yugoslavia, among others, fled the advance of the German Wehrmacht and lived out the war in exile, it underlined.
TIME said now it was Zelenskyy’s generation’s turn to face the blows of a foreign invader.
Instead of Stalin and Hitler, it was Russian President Vladimir Putin “trying to break their will by depriving them of heat and light, destroying their ability to harvest food, or to think about much besides survival through this winter. Already the next generation of Ukrainians, like Zelenskyy’s own son, were learning about the tools of war instead of planning for prosperity. That is the pattern the President aims to disrupt, and his plan relies on more than weapons”.
It added that there wasn’t much in Zelenskyy’s biography to predict his willingness to stand and fight.
“He had never served in the military or shown much interest in its affairs. He had only been President since April 2019. His professional instincts derived from a lifetime as an actor on the stage, a specialist in improv comedy, and a producer in the movie business.”
When it comes to battlefield decisions, Zelenskyy usually focuses on human lives — how many would be lost if we take this path?
“We could have pushed into Kherson earlier, with greater force. But we understood how many people would have fallen,” he says in the TIME article. “That’s why a different tactic was chosen, and thank God it worked. I don’t think it was some genius move on our part. It was reason winning out, wisdom winning out against speed and ambition.”
TIME said Zelenskyy’s vision of victory now extends beyond the liberation of territory. He 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.
“Later we will be judged,” he says. “I have not finished this great, important action for our country. Not yet.”
Among the shortlisted candidates for this year’s Time Person of the Year – the people who had the most influence on the world this year – were China’s president Xi Jinping, the US Supreme Court, Twitter’s new owner billionaire Elon Musk, who was Person of the Year last year, philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, protestors in Iran, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and gun safety advocates.
Every year since 1927, Time’s Person of the Year has set activists, world leaders, celebrities and epidemic fighters on its front cover, spotlighting their impact.
“Last year, Time bequeathed the title to the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk, calling attention to his rise as a figure in tech through his advancement in automotive and spacecraft engineering,” it said.
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