This regional leader is a symbol of Ukrainian defiance.


To win the war, says Vitaliy Kim, you need to love the war.

Mr. Kim, 41, the head of the regional military administration in the embattled southern city of Mykolaiv, has become the face of Ukraine’s resistance along the sweep of the Black Sea coast. His smile exudes a quiet confidence that says Russian missiles may hurt us, but they cannot dent the Ukrainian spirit.

Four months ago, Mykolaiv was almost overrun as Russian forces surged out of annexed Crimea, taking the nearby city of Kherson. Mr. Kim responded, in daily video messages, with a phrase that became a watchword: “Good morning, we are from Ukraine!”

“It was important to convey that the enemy was not as scary as it seemed, and to tell the world that we are here, that we exist,” Mr. Kim said.

The message worked. Mr. Kim quickly attracted almost half a million Instagram followers.

Mr. Kim attributes his calmness to his father, a man of Korean descent. Regular lessons in taekwondo instilled discipline.

His decisions, and the confidence he has conveyed, have helped turn back Russian forces, hold them at bay and frustrate their desire to seize the entire Black Sea Coast.



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