The process of choosing the Person of the Year, namely, who or what most influenced the events of the past 12 months, can be agonizing, Time admits. However, this year’s choice was the most clear-cut in memory.
How Ukraine united the world — Time
"Volodymyr Zelensky galvanized the world in a way we haven’t seen in decades. In the weeks after Russian bombs began falling on Feb. 24, his decision not to flee Kyiv but to stay and rally support was fateful. 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," the announcement says.
The magazine adds that Zelenskyy’s information offensive "shifted the geopolitical weather system, setting off a wave of action that swept the globe." The world has suddenly come together around Ukraine. At the U.N., 141 countries condemned the invasion; only North Korea, Syria, Eritrea, and Belarus—dictatorships all—voted with Moscow.
Major companies pulled out of Russia en masse, despite the losses it entailed. Countless strangers have taken in refugees; restaurateurs fed the hungry; doctors flew in to help the wounded. Ukraine’s flag was unfurled everywhere, from social media to the world’s most iconic sites.
What is "the spirit of Ukraine"?
The spirit of Ukraine was embodied by countless individuals inside and outside the country. Many fought behind the scenes, like Yevhen Klopotenko, one of Ukraine’s most famous chefs, known for his borsch. He provided over a thousand free meals a day to refugees in Lviv in the first weeks after the invasion.
Chef José Andrés brought his World Central Kitchen, serving more than 180 million free meals. Dr. David Nott, a Welsh surgeon, has traveled multiple times to Ukraine to train local doctors in how to treat war wounds. Julia Payevska, a medic, treated wounded civilians, day and night, in besieged Mariupol, as well as a wounded enemy soldier—footage of which helped her get released after three months of imprisonment by Russian troops.
All the while, journalists risked their lives to tell these stories.
"The challenge is to find a way to talk about it so that the world continues to care," says Olga Rudenko, the editor of the Kyiv Independent.
For proving that courage can be as contagious as fear, for stirring people and nations to come together in defense of freedom, for reminding the world of the fragility of democracy—and of peace—Volodymyr Zelensky and the spirit of Ukraine are TIME’s 2022 Person of the Year.