Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.
After gaining international prominence in February as the Russian military invaded Ukraine, Zelensky has been revered among Western lawmakers as he leads the war-torn nation, which many officials initially predicted would succumb to its neighbor within the first weeks of the invasion. Time Magazine noted Zelensky’s efficacy in rallying international support using “the weapon of information.”
“Most of the people around him were armed with assault rifles, but this was his weapon, a late-model iPhone that Zelensky has used to wage the biggest land war of the information age,” Time Magazine reporter Simon Shuster said of the president. “His skill at addressing the world through that phone — in his nightly speeches on social media, in his endless calls with foreign leaders and supporters — has been as critical as the number of tanks in his army.”
Member states of NATO sent thousands of troops to neighboring eastern European countries immediately after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion, raising the specter of a worldwide geopolitical conflict. The United States has sent more than $9.8 billion in civilian and military assistance to Ukraine over the past several months. USAID Administrator Samantha Power remarked earlier this year that as the “assault on Ukraine’s public services continues, the United States is rushing in with financial support to help the government keep the lights on, provide essential services to innocent citizens and pay the health care workers who are providing lifesaving support on the frontlines.”
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Zelensky has appeared on the cover of multiple prominent Western magazines and hosted several diplomats and celebrities in Kyiv. American actor Sean Penn, for example, loaned his Oscar trophy to the commander-in-chief last month.
“He has granted interviews to talk-show hosts and journalists and held live chats with students at Stanford, Harvard, and Yale. He has leveraged the fame of entertainment superstars to amplify his calls for international support,” Shuster continued. “Jessica Chastain and Ben Stiller visited his fortified compound. Liev Schreiber agreed to become an ambassador for Ukraine’s official fundraising platform.”
Time Magazine passed over Person of the Year nominees such as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. Elon Musk, the entrepreneur who leads SpaceX, Tesla, and Twitter, earned the distinction last year.
Among other sea changes in the global balance of power stemming from the invasion, Zelensky submitted an expedited application for Ukraine to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Geopolitical pressures from the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, both of which are significant producers of food and energy, have reverberated across the planet, worsening supply chain and inflationary pressures. Developing nations have been particularly impacted, with farmers in nations such as Greece, Peru, and Sri Lanka launching demonstrations in major cities, pushing the government of the latter nation to flee abroad.
Putin annexed the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine after residents voted to join his nation in September. Local Ukrainian officials said the election was coerced by Russian soldiers, with results in each region appearing strikingly lopsided in Russia’s favor.