The economic policies of Ukraine and Israel are painfully similar, directed by frequently-rotating incompetent political appointees. Both countries are heavily bureaucratized post-socialist economies. Both Israel and Ukraine emphasize social welfare, which is interpreted as meaning tremendous redistribution of wealth. Both depend on agriculture, tourism, military industries, and semi-processed materials. Both have built favorable currency exchanges through unreasonably large export and foreign investments. The extreme economic polarization of their societies between oligarchs and paupers stifles internal markets and imports, and therefore Israeli and Ukrainian currencies remain stable or even appreciate despite their woeful economies. High tariff barriers and intricate domestic regulation created semi-closed economies in both Israel and Ukraine. Semi-closed economies with favorable currency exchanges can run high inflation even while their currency appreciates. Prices for goods and especially services keep rising in Israel and Ukraine, often increasing several times in dollar terms over the last decade.

Ukraine shares many similarities to Israel. Both nations lacked statehood throughout their history until very recently. Both established their modern states by the grace of Western powers with Russia’s consent. Both tried to assimilate very different ethnic and religious groups, impose the use of a previously unused language, and overall create a national identity. Both countries perpetually confront their powerful neighbors, Russia and the Muslim world. Both are aliens: Ukraine is neither a Western nor an Eastern European country, and Israel is an odd entity in the Islamic Middle East. Both ostensibly enjoy US aid and protection, but suffer from being pawns in US global policy. America reasonably treats both as allies rather than friends, but Israel and Ukraine are only useful to America against its archenemy, Russia (and now, in Israel’s case, Iran and Syria). The US sets Ukraine against Russia and mortgages Israel for oil. In both countries, statistically minor American aid buys huge, disproportionate influence. In both countries, American PR consultants handle the elections and the US Embassy is the kingmaker.

The US Administration famously staged a Ukrainian “orange revolution” in 2004, pumping close to $2 billion into to Ukraine to oust pro-Russian presidential candidate Yanukovich (a convicted rapist and robber) and install the completely worthless Yuschenko (an ex-accountant from a state farm). Demonstrators paid $16 a day formed the core of anti-Yanukovich protests in Kiev, and Yuschenko eventually succeeded in the heavily rigged re-run of the elections. Since then, Yanukovich’s party overwhelmingly won the parliamentary elections and single-handedly formed the government, which stripped Yuschenko of power and his acolytes of profits in the thoroughly corrupt Ukrainian economy. On the advice of his American analysts, Yuschenko undertook a truly excellent feat: he dissolved the parliament and called for new elections. That move was superficially odd because Yuschenko’s party stood to lose many seats, owing to his unpopularity as president. But the trick worked brilliantly: Yuschenko and his tentative political partner Timoshenko (whose business empire collapsed under hundreds of millions of dollars in debt to Russia’s gas suppliers) rigged the elections to push the small Socialist Party below the 3 percent parliamentary threshold (the threshold is grossly unconstitutional, but who cares). The elections created a parliament in which no major party (Yanukovich’s or Timoshenko’s) can form a coalition government without Yuschenko’s small party. Now Yuschenko offers a coalition both to Yanukovich and Timoshenko, which is pretty unprincipled, but welcome to Ukraine. He plays them against each other and bargains for a disproportionate number of ministerial positions for his people. In Ukraine, participation in government means stealing a lot of money. Every party has on its list many businessmen who paid $4-6 million each to get into parliament and now need to recover that investment manifold. Any party excluded from the government coalition fails on its promises to such sponsors and will have a hard time raising cash for the next election. Both Yanukovich and Timoshenko strive therefore to form a government coalition and offer the best terms to Yuschenko, who has thus arranged good positions in the Ukrainian government for his associates, and ensured the accompanying corrupt profits.