KYIV, Ukraine – President Zelensky was exclusively interviewed on his private train on November 14 while traveling to the recently liberated city of Kherson for the cover story by TIME’s Simon Shuster, who spent nine months covering the invasion and was given unmatched access to the presidential compound. Shuster also provided updates from the military bunker in Kherson, where Zelensky met with the commanders of the southern front to discuss strategy.
More than a dozen people who best represent Ukraine are depicted on the cover, including Zelensky’s Neil Jamieson, Dr. Iryna Kondratova, Olga Rudenko, the editor-in-chief of the Kyiv Independent, Levgen Klopotenko, a chef in Kiev who turned his restaurant into a relief canteen, Dr. David Nott, a combat surgeon, and Dr. Oleg Kutkov, an engineer who laid the foundation for the vital connectivity.
In his letter to readers, TIME Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal writes, “This year’s choice was the most clear-cut in memory. Whether the battle for Ukraine fills one with hope or with fear, the world marched to Volodymyr Zelensky’s beat in 2022. 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… Ukraine’s president was everywhere. His information offensive shifted the geopolitical weather system, setting off a wave of action that swept the globe. In a world that had come to be defined by its divisiveness, there was a coming together around this cause, around this country that some outside it might not be able to find on a map.”