Volodymyr Zelenskyy named Time magazine's 2022 Person of the Year

Ukrainian President this year proved 'courage can be as contagious as fear', the magazine says

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday was named Time magazine's “Person of the Year”, the culmination of a period in which he has become the face of his country's defence against Russia's invasion.

Time's editor-in-chief wrote on Twitter that Mr Zelenskyy and “the spirit of Ukraine” won the magazine's yearly award “for proving that courage can be as contagious as fear, for stirring people to come together in defence of freedom, for reminding the world of the fragility of democracy — and peace”.

After Russia launched its invasion on February 24, Mr Zelenskyy refused to leave Kyiv, which has faced a near continuous barrage of Russian attacks. On February 26, Mr Zelenskyy posted a video message in which he wore his now-signature green T-shirt, speaking defiantly from Ukraine's capital.

Time said that the Ukrainian President's “contagious” courage spread through the country's political leadership after it became clear that he would not leave Kyiv.

Soon after it became apparent that Kyiv was successfully defending itself against the Russian assault, world leaders and activists began to flock to the city to show their support.

Former British prime minister Boris Johnson became the first politician to meet Mr Zelenskyy and others followed.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin and numerous congressional delegations have visited the city since.

And US first lady Jill Biden made an unannounced trip to western Ukraine earlier this year to meet Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska.

Mr Zelenskyy has repeatedly urged the US and other western nations to supply Ukraine with defensive weapons, condemn Russian atrocities in Bucha and Izium, and declare the country a state sponsor of terror.

Speaking to the US Institute of Peace on Mr Zelenskyy's behalf, his chief of staff Andriy Yermak said Russia must be held accountable for its aggression.

“Peace is impossible without justice. Justice is impossible without due process of law,” Mr Yermak said on Wednesday.

Oksana Makarova, Ukraine's ambassador to the US, said long-standing peace can only be achieved if “justice is served” and if those responsible for Russia's invasion are held accountable, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and others inside the Kremlin.

Congressman Bill Keating of Massachusetts said he would introduce a bipartisan resolution for the creation of a special tribunal for the punishment of the crime of aggression against Ukraine.

Mr Keating also called on President Joe Biden to make accessible the tools needed to create the tribunal.

“It's incumbent on all of us to do our part to ensure Ukrainian investigators and prosecutors have the tools and resources they require to achieve justice,” Mr Keating said.

Mr Zelenskyy has recently suggested he would be open to discuss peace with Russia, but only if certain conditions were met, including the prosecution of war crimes and the return of occupied Ukrainian territory.

But Russia is unlikely to accept any of those conditions, and US officials have indicated that Mr Putin has no interest in engaging in talks to end the war.

Time has previously selected its “Person of the Year” based on “the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year”.

Tesla founder Elon Musk, US Congresswoman Liz Cheney, Chinese President Xi Jinping and “protesters in Iran” were among those on this year's “Person of the Year” shortlist.

Updated: December 07, 2022, 6:08 PM
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