Ukraine: The country of the year

For the heroism of its people, and for standing up to a bully



December 20, 2022 - 2:53 PM

One week after the liberation of Kherson from Russian occupation on Nov. 18, 2022, food aid is reaching the city of Kherson, which has a population of about 280,000. It's been 8 months of occupation and supplies are very limited. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

In normal times, picking The Economist’s country of the year is hard. Our writers and editors usually begin with a freewheeling debate in which they spar over the rival claims of half a dozen shortlisted nations. But this year, for the first time since we started naming countries of the year in 2013, the choice is obvious. It can only be Ukraine.

The honor normally goes to the country which, in our view, has improved the most in the previous 12 months. So Ukraine is in one sense an unusual choice, in that life for most Ukrainians has grown spectacularly worse since Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of their country in February. Multitudes have died. Cities have been smashed and charred. Millions have fled their homes. Ukraine’s economy has shrunk by about a third. Because of Russian attacks, many Ukrainians are shivering in the dark without electricity.

Yet Ukrainians have proved themselves this year. Four of their qualities stand out. The first is heroism. When the invasion began, most people thought Ukraine would be crushed by its much larger neighbor. Many would have understood if Ukraine’s defenders had run away. Mr. Putin clearly expected the Ukrainian army to fold: his troops arrived with their dress uniforms ready for a victory parade but without nearly enough food.

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