TIME announced Wednesday that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the spirit of Ukraine were the magazine’s 2022 “Person of the Year”.
Zelenskyy has risen to global prominence since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February.
The 44-year-old has since remained headstrong and defiant in his mission to counter Russian intimidation, and has been seen as a hero and inspiration to many at home and abroad.
“The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride,” Zelenskyy famously told the U.S., after officials offered to move the president away from Kyiv, to a more secure location soon after the invasion began.
Zelenskyy has often been seen at the frontlines of the war, appearing in the part-Russian controlled territory of Donbas, and most recently, in Kherson after Russia withdrew troops from the city in November.
Before becoming president of Ukraine in April 2019, Zelenskyy was an actor and comedian, appearing in a well-known Ukrainian sitcom called “Servant of the People” where he played a high school teacher who wound up becoming president. At the start of the war, clips of the president appearing in the Ukrainian version of ”Dancing with the Stars” went viral.
The Ukrainian president was chosen out of a shortlist of 10 candidates. The others were Elon Musk (last year’s “Person of the Year”), Chinese leader Xi Jinping, the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Republican politician Liz Cheney, the philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, protesters in Iran, gun safety advocates, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
In an essay announcing the 2022 appointment, TIME reporter Simon Shuster wrote that Zelenskyy’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.”
The Financial Times also named Ukrainian president the newspaper’s “Person of the Year.” In an interview with the FT, Zelenskyy said, “I am more responsible than I am brave ... I just hate to let people down.”