Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is TIME’s 2022 Person of the Year, the magazine announced Wednesday morning.
Zelensky, 44, shot to international recognition upon Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Almost ten months later, he remains a symbol of the nation’s stoicism and spirit in the face of incursion.
The historic TIME honor, first awarded to aviator Charles Lindbergh in 1927, annually selects the person who has had a particular impact on events of the past year.
Zelensky’s selection is commemorated with a special TIME cover, as well as an exclusive interview published both in the print double-issue and online.
The conversation partly took place on a train ride to Kherson, where Zelensky appeared almost immediately after the Russian troops withdrew from the region in November.
“Nine months they’ve been under occupation, without light, without anything,” he lamented.
“As I see it, it’s my duty to go there and show them that Ukraine has returned, that it supports them.”
The interview also focused on Zelensky’s hobbies outside the pressures of his office– not that he has much time to enjoy them now. A former actor and comedian, he grew up enjoying old Soviet comedies.
“These are the classics of my generation, but I’m incapable of watching them now,” he explained. “They revolt me.”
Zelensky’s honor comes at a potentially pivotal time in the war, as Ukrainian forces executed several drone strikes on Russian airfields this week. Though the government maintained its policy of silence on high-profile attacks, The New York stated that a senior Ukrainian official said the attacks were launched from Ukraine.