To hear the pronouncements about Ukraine that issue from that establishment’s nodes every time the country makes it through another election without mass violence, you’d think this was Switzerland. Brussels and Washington pat Ukraine on the head for its ‘maturity’ and its ‘evolving democracy’. The smart locals know they live in a klepto-oligarchy, and that the West will trumpet Ukraine’s ‘robust democratic culture’ as long as capital keeps flowing in and out of the country. It’s meaningful that every time populist Ukrainian politicians have made noises about renationalising industrial properties stolen by oligarchs, the screaming from the West has been such to make you think a return to Stalinist terror had been proposed.

And it’s telling to watch Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, the Orange revolution’s villain restored now to power, smiling a thousand-watt smile as he consorts with sheepish Western leaders. He knows where his bread gets buttered. Ukraine has achieved that sine qua non of the second-tier country whose elite wants to prosper in the global order — it’s managed to unlink politics from the economy. ~Andrey Slivka