The world marked another grim milestone over the weekend: two years since Russia’s latest invasion of Ukraine. And with it came some grim statistics. On Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have died so far. He declined to state how many had been wounded or captured, saying it would reveal too much information about troop strength to Russia. And he may not have even revealed the true death toll. Back in August, New York Times reporting put the figure at about 70,000 killed. 

Suspected on one hand of understating the severity of losses, Zelensky simultaneously has to make the case for how much greater the losses can get, in order to win more support from unconvinced U.S. congresspeople. To hammer that home, he told CNN on Sunday that millions of Ukrainians would die without more aid.


Once a scathing critic of politicians, Zelensky now has to play the political game to protect his country. Not a lot of politicians make it onto this magazine’s Worthy 100 roster of the people doing the most good in the world. But Volodymyr Zelensky did in 2022, and the honor doesn’t expire. He remains worthy—with or without possible political warts. 

Other Worthy 100 Heroes

No one person can hold an entire nation together. And over the past two years, Worth has reported on individuals inside and outside who are helping to sustain the country and its people. Several have made it into the Worthy 100 alongside Zelensky. They include Yana Zinkevych, the youngest member of the Ukrainian parliament and the founder of Hospitallers. The volunteer paramedic battalion has been protecting Ukrainians on the front lines since Russia’s original invasion in 2014.

Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld has collected extensive data on the extent and impact of sanctions against Russia—making him a valued advisor to U.S. and European leaders, and a prominent name on the Kremlin’s enemies list. Among those leaders is European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who has led the EU through the Ukrainian and many other crises. 


International educational leader Justin van Fleet has joined with Ukrainian partners to provide laptops and other educational support to refugee children. Meanwhile, Ukrainian-born Mila Kunis and husband Ashton Kutcher shared honors for, among other things, raising $30 million to support refugees from the war. And we honor Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, imprisoned in Russia for nearly a year, and counting, for his truthful reporting from inside the country’s war effort. 

Volunteers and Leaders on the Ground

Outside the Worthy 100 roster are plenty more heroes. In 2022, Laura Vanderberg, a professor of cognitive science in the U.S., returned to Ukraine, where she had volunteered with the Peace Corps years earlier. She soon found herself facilitating shipments of defensive gear to Ukrainian troops. But as time went on, she shifted focus to her true expertise by facilitating psychological support programs for the traumatized.

Last summer, Worth contributors Deborah Grayson and Jonathan Russo went inside the war effort by volunteering with music-festival-cum-aid organization Folkowisko. They helped deliver crucial supplies to refugees from eastern Ukraine seeking (relative) safety in the west.

Tech Innovators Step Up

Ukraine is a tech-savvy country, home to talented developers who were once a staple remote workforce for companies around the world (and for Ukraine’s own industry). So technology has naturally been a key part of the country’s response. While the drones and tenuous use of Starlink internet service are well-known aspects of the war effort, Worth uncovered other initiatives and leaders. 

They include Inna Kosianets, a New York City-based investment executive who joined with other diaspora to organize hackathons to help develop technologies to aid the war effort. Another New York entrepreneur, Pulkit Jaiswal, has mobilized his company,, to identify Russian disinformation using AI.

With economic sanctions and other disruptions, cryptocurrency has played a major role in funding both sides of the war. Ukraine’s allies have been working to thwart Russia’s use of the currencies. And Marina Khaustova, CEO of antifraud tech company Crystal Blockchain, has been assisting the Ukrainian cyber police in their efforts.

The Ukraine war rages into its third year, with no end in sight. But neither is there an end to human kindness in the face of such suffering.