Evacuation of students in Ukraine

No longer a gendarme for the West: Simon Pirani on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Matthew N Lyons


How should western leftists respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? How do we best oppose imperialist aggression and systemic violence in a situation that defies simple narratives? How do we navigate between Kremlin-inspired propaganda and anti-Russian hysteria, or between the “anti-imperialist” and “anti-Nazi” pretensions of a right-wing authoritarian capitalist aggressor and the “pro-democracy” claims of critics who routinely support brutal repression and mass murder?

From a three way fight perspective, the Russia-Ukraine war presents special challenges because it’s a situation where fascists—and claims of antifascism—have played significant—but also significantly different—roles on both sides.

There are a lot of wretched takes on the Russia-Ukraine war, but a number of good ones as well—statements and articles that lay primary responsibility on Russia’s imperialist attack while also critiquing the actions of western powers and Ukraine’s capitalist state. Three Way Fight has compiled some of the writings we’ve found most useful in our “Antifascist Resources on Ukraine” post.

One writer I’ve returned to again and again over the past several months is Simon Pirani, a British leftist who has been studying and writing about Russia, Ukraine, and other former Soviet republics since the 1990s, first as a journalist and then as an academic scholar. (See “Note” below.) Most of Pirani’s recent writings can be found on his blog People and Nature or on his website. Pirani’s work stands out because:

  • his analysis of both Russia and the Ukraine is informed by decades of research and personal engagement with radical movements in the former USSR;
  • rather than focus on geopolitics or the relations between governments, he places the development of social forces at the center of his analysis and working-class solidarity at the center of his calls for action; and
  • he makes a number of important points that few others have made, such as noting that Putin long acted as “a gendarme for international capital” before falling out with western powers.

In this essay I offer a review of Pirani’s recent writings about the Russia-Ukraine war and its background. Because Pirani has produced a series of essays and interviews that overlap in scope, I have pieced together a number of his core arguments and grouped them into four sections: “Russia,” “Ukraine,” “The war,” and “What to do.” This approach necessarily involves skipping back and forth from one article or interview to another, so I have included a full list of Pirani works consulted at the end.


Pirani describes Russia’s role in global capitalism as both subordinate and imperialist:

“In terms of its relationship with the large Western states, and its position in the world economy—principally as a supplier of raw materials—Russia is very definitely in a subordinate position. But in relation to Ukraine and other countries around it such as Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Georgia, and states in the Caucasus, it definitely acts as an imperialist power.”

Because of inequities baked into the international economy, Pirani argues, Russia’s dependence on commodities exports has fostered a “rent-seeking, parasitic form of capitalism” that in many ways has more in common with countries of the Global South than industrialized countries. To compensate for its lack of economic power, Putin’s Russia has relied disproportionately on military strength—including its nuclear arsenal—to bolster its ambitions to great power status. It has fought wars in Chechnya (1999-2009), Georgia (2008), Ukraine (2014 to the present), and Syria (2015 to the present), and has sent troops to suppress political protest movements in Belarus (2020) and Kazhakhstan (2022). At the same time, Pirani notes, “Russia has shown little sign either of wanting to acquire territory, beyond enclaves with a majority of Russian speakers, or of being able to dominate it economically.”

“In terms of… its position in the world economy—principally as a supplier of raw materials—Russia is very definitely in a subordinate position. But in relation to Ukraine and other countries around it… it definitely acts as an imperialist power.”

To augment Pirani’s account, Russia’s reach has been further extended by military contractors, most notably the Wagner Group, a private Russian company that has close ties with the Russian military and Putin himself. Wagner mercenaries have been deployed to eastern Ukraine, Syria, and at least fourteen African countries, including Mali, where they have been implicated in massacres of hundreds of civilians.

To understand how Russia came to occupy its contradictory international role, Pirani reaches back to the origins of post-Soviet Russia. After the USSR collapsed in 1991, representatives of western capitalism went in and pushed successfully to break up the state-run economy and restore private enterprise on terms of ruthless neoliberalism. As a result, Pirani notes, “both Russia and Ukraine were plunged into the greatest peacetime slump anywhere, ever. Whole swathes of industry, including much manufacturing capacity related to the military, were junked. Social welfare systems collapsed.” It was this period that established Russia’s primary international economic role as an exporter of fossil fuels and other commodities.

Under Russia’s first president, Boris Yeltsin, not only the welfare state but the state as a whole was extremely weak:

“Tax collection, above all from the oil, gas and metals companies, sank into a very low level…. The state was losing its monopoly on armed force, not only with the [separatist] situation in Chechnya and some of the other republics, but also just in terms of the number of guns that were in the hands of criminal gangs who could participate in the economy by seizing property or other methods.”

After coming to power in 2000, Vladimir Putin set about restoring a strong Russian state. First, he used brutal military power to suppress Chechen autonomy and give a warning to separatists anywhere else in Russia. Second, he

“…made very clear to the companies that taxes from now on were going to be paid. And the oligarchs who argued with him the most fiercely, or were otherwise politically dangerous to him, ended up either outside the country, or in jail, or, in a couple of cases, dead. Putin tilted the relationship of power between the state and capital to the state’s advantage.”

Third, Putin’s government increasingly cracked down on political dissent and independent media.

Pirani notes that during the first decade of Putin’s rule, economic modernizers within the governing elite talked about moving the country away from dependence on resource exports, but this ended after the 2008 financial crisis, a 2012 decline in oil prices, and finally Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and Western powers’ imposition of sanctions in response. Economic modernizers lost their influence and the siloviki (people from the security services, including Putin himself) became completely dominant.

Pirani debunks the idea that Putin’s Russia and the western powers have been locked in a steadily mounting conflict:

“From the time Putin’s set-up became established, from the point of view of Western capital, they had a good relationship with Russia. Russia was supplying oil, gas and minerals to the world market. They were obeying the rules of that market. They were trading on terms which the West could understand. They were accepting all the rules of international finance and the dominance of the Western banking system.”

In addition, Pirani argues, the western powers accepted Russia’s military role as a gendarme for international capitalism—an enforcer of order in the former Soviet republics and even in the Middle East:

“For all their disavowals of ‘spheres of influence,’ Western powers not only ignored Russia’s multiple war crimes in Chechnya, but acquiesced in the invasion of Georgia in 2008 and, most significantly, Russia’s bloody intervention in support of the Assad dictatorship in Syria since 2015. This tolerance for Russia as a gendarme was the other side of the coin of the Western powers’ own military adventures in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and their support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen.”

Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea caused the western powers to modify this stance by kicking Russia out of the G8 and imposing limited sanctions, but in other respects they continued to accept Russia’s gendarme role, for example with regard to its recent military interventions in Belarus and Kazakhstan. The relationship did not fundamentally change until Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine this year. Now, for the first time, “the bourgeoisie internationally have decided to shut out Russia from the international financial system, to shut Russia out of any investment, and Russia’s population can starve!” Pirani describes this as comparable to the western powers’ policy toward Venezuela or Iran: “They want to buy these countries’ oil on the world market, but allow the rest of their economies to collapse.”

“Western powers not only ignored Russia’s multiple war crimes in Chechnya, but acquiesced in the invasion of Georgia in 2008 and, most significantly, Russia’s bloody intervention in support of the Assad dictatorship in Syria since 2015. This…was the other side of the coin of the Western powers’ own military adventures in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and their support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen.”

Pirani’s analysis of Putin’s regime appears to have evolved in response to recent events. In an interview conducted in mid March, he touched briefly on the far right’s role in Russia, noting that, contrary to Putin’s supposed interest in de-Nazification, “the Russian fascists and nationalists are a greater force, and a better armed force…than the Ukrainian fascists”:

“Sometimes [the fascist movement in Russia] is subject to heavy clampdowns from the state; at other times it is allowed by the state to, for example, terrorize migrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus, to terrorize the left. The state, to some extent, regulates the extent to which the fascists are able to do street activity in Russia. And the use of Russian fascist gangs, supported by the Russian state, was the key force in the war in eastern Ukraine in 2014 and the establishment of the so-called ‘people’s republics’ there. Russian fascists and extreme nationalists, and some of the Chechen armed gangs that are used by the Russian state to control Chechnya, were heavily involved.”

However, in an article published April 19th, Pirani offered a much bigger claim, that the Russian state as a whole is not only authoritarian but is now moving toward fascism. He argues that four recent developments constitute this shift toward fascist rule:

  • a redefinition of patriotism to center on repelling external and internal enemies militarily
  • an ethno-nationalist redefinition of the “Russian world,” with a focus on purging Ukraine from the earth
  • the incorporation of armed far rightists into the state
  • intensified repression of dissent via both state organs and fascist-like squads.

I agree that these developments represent an alarming, qualitative shift in the character of the Russian state. To bolster one part of Pirani’s argument, Putin’s vision of Russia leading a Eurasian civilizational clash with the West echoes the ideas of neofascist theorist Aleksandr Dugin (although Dugin’s direct influence on Putin has often been exaggerated).

Yet overall, I don’t agree that we should understand the changes in the Russian state as a move toward fascism. Pirani’s argument is based on “the possibility that fascism can congeal in the state, without the type of mass mobilization on which Hitler and Mussolini relied.” While I support efforts to rethink standard Marxist assumptions about fascism, I also think it’s analytically and strategically important to delineate fascism from other forms of dictatorship. To me fascism necessarily involves a mass-based revolt against the established political order, rather than an intensification of that order’s own authoritarian tendencies. (Paul Bowman has argued this point directly with regard to Putin.)


Like Russia, after the USSR’s collapse Ukraine experienced massive privatization and developed what Pirani calls “a parasitic form of capitalism” with heavy reliance on commodities exports. However, “US and European capital were far less committed to plundering Ukraine’s resources than they were Russia’s, Poland’s or the Baltic states’. And while the EU had no interest in admitting Ukraine to membership, it welcomed an inflow of cheap migrant labour from Ukraine.”

Unlike Russia, Ukraine was a relatively small country, historically colonized by Russia and navigating between bigger powers on either side. Pirani quotes Ukrainian socialist Yuliya Yurchenko’s analysis that the country’s oligarchs “turned pre-existing and largely non-conflictual differences [such as between Ukrainian speakers and Russian speakers] into new animosities and prejudices…as an effective strategy to divide and rule the population that kept resisting the plunder with waves of resistance from below, from the Orange Revolution in 2004 and the Maidan uprising in 2013. These divisions were further amplified by the different oligarchs’ relationships with the European Union (EU) and Russia.”

Pirani notes that the split between pro-Russian and pro-EU elite factions has been a through-line of post-Soviet Ukraine. At the same time, he cautions that standard portrayals of Ukraine’s pre-2014 presidents Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych as “pro-Western” and “pro-Russian,” respectively, are oversimplifications. While they had different leanings, both tried to pursue a binary policy between the two neighboring powers.

In February 2014, President Yanukovych was deposed and fled the country following three months of protests in Kyiv’s central square, or Maidan. Some western leftists and liberals have portrayed this as a fascist coup backed (or in some versions orchestrated) by the U.S. government. Pirani rejects such claims as “Kremlin-inspired nonsense.”

“Maidan was not invented by the US or European bourgeoisie. It was a ‘wave of resistance from below’… It came amid economic instability caused by the 2008-09 economic crisis, and hard on the heels of the ‘Arab spring’ of 2011-12. Hundreds of thousands of people occupied the centre of Kyiv, including overnight in sub-zero temperatures. Subsequent research by sociologists showed the high level of participation across Ukraine in local demonstrations, and in particular on attacks on police stations that led to the collapse of the police force.”

The Maidan mass movement was “politically heterogenous [sic] and confused” but in broad terms motivated by (a) a desire for Ukraine to become part of “Europe” so as to improve wages, (b) opposition to political corruption, and (c) fear of excessive Russian influence on Ukrainian politics. “These fears fed into nationalist slogans.”

Pirani acknowledges that provocateurs and opportunist politicians were active on both sides of the conflict, and that armed fascists played an active role among the protesters. “We have many friends—socialists, trade unionists, feminists—who were also in the crowd, and who actually felt threatened and also tried to organize themselves to protect themselves from these fascists.” But, bottom line, “this was a mass movement, and we can’t analyze these events in 2014 without recognizing that.” Pirani’s assessment confirms the analysis of the Maidan revolution that I offered at the time.

The Maidan uprising and revolution, Pirani continues, sparked an “anti-Maidan” countermovement fueled by “fears among working-class Russian-speaking Ukrainians about the influence of Ukrainian nationalism, including reactionary and fascist types of nationalism, in the Maidan movement—although sociological evidence shows that these fears were expressed as separatism only by a tiny minority.” Pirani argues that the two movements, despite being in conflict, shared similar aspirations (of social and economic reform) and adds that “it was right-wing militias from Russia, and the Russian army, that militarised the conflict and suppressed the anti-Maidan’s social content” [italics in original]. (For more on the Maidan and anti-Maidan movements, see this 2014 discussion, which Pirani cites, by Ukrainian and Russian activists and scholars.)

Pirani argues that the danger from Ukraine’s fascists is real but “has not overwhelmed Ukrainian civil society.” He notes that although fascist played a significant part in the 2014 revolution, in the elections that followed fascist parties received a small percentage of the vote—less than in many other European countries. However, armed fascist gangs became more numerous and dangerous, as guns were taken from local police and as fascists (and others) mobilized to counter pro-Russian separatism in Donbas. These fascist gangs, some of which were incorporated into the military, have launched physical attacks against leftists, Roma, and the LGBT community.

I agree with this assessment as far as it goes, but I think there’s also more to be said. Lev Golinkin, a Jewish Ukrainian American journalist who is no fan of Putin, has warned not only of fascist units within the Ukrainian military but also fascists holding high-ranking positions in the national police and, more broadly, widespread and largely official glorification of World War 2-era far right organizations that participated in mass killings of Jews and Poles. There have also been significant ideological differences between different Ukrainian far right groups, for example with regard to the European Union and to the severity of antisemitism.

Evacuation of students from 26 countries from Ukraine to Poland.

The war

Pirani sharply criticizes those who portray the Russia-Ukraine war as essentially an inter-imperialist conflict:

“[T]his is not a conflict, in the first place, between Russia and the US, or between Russia and the NATO powers. It’s a conflict—in the first place—between the Russian army instructed by the Russian government, and the Ukrainian population as well as the Ukrainian government. It’s complicated, but then life is complicated.”

In this war there is a fundamental asymmetry between the two sides:

The Ukrainian war can not be seriously equated with the Russian war, any more than the Iraqi war with the US-UK invasion; the Kurdish war with Turkish aggression; the Palestinian war with Israeli apartheid; or, going further back, the Vietnamese war with the US war. People who think Ukraine is fighting ‘a proxy war for NATO’ should clarify the difference, if any, between this and the ‘proxy war for the Arab states’ fought by Palestine, or the ‘proxy war for the USSR and China’ fought by Vietnam.”

Pirani has followed Ukrainian socialists in describing Ukraine’s resistance to Russia as a people’s war, by which he means “an armed conflict in which a significant section of the population is engaged, alongside or independently of the state, and in which social, labour and democratic issues figure along with national ones.” He highlights three ways this describes the Ukraine conflict:

  • “the Russian army’s shockingly anti-popular methods, a continuation of its methods in Chechnya and Syria,” which parallel western forces’ brutal tactics in Vietnam or Iraq and which turn Ukrainians’ resistance into “a war for survival”
  • the fact that millions of Ukrainians have chosen not to flee the country, and a large proportion of them have taken up arms or joined the war effort in non-military roles
  • the widespread and persistent popular protests by Ukrainians in areas occupied by Russia.

At the same time, Pirani cautions against romanticizing the Ukrainian resistance. He warns that “assumptions widely shared by Marxists in the early 20th century, about the potentially progressive roles of the national bourgeoisie,” and which have often been associated with the concept of people’s war, have proven to be false. He warns that any people’s war carries the danger that “new forms of statehood, authority and oppression will proliferate” or that militarization may overwhelm civil society, as happened in Syria. The motives of NATO countries in arming Ukraine must also be taken into account.

I appreciate Pirani’s effort to face the complexity of this issue, but I also think fuller discussion is needed. Pirani’s definition of “people’s war” is so broad that it could apply when a large part of the population is mobilized around a war of conquest, if that war involves a challenge to established political structures or calls for socioeconomic reform. I’m thinking particularly of some wars of settler colonialism, notably the U.S. War of Independence and Israel’s 1948 war: in both cases popular struggles for political autonomy and seemingly radical change were integrally bound up with systematic forced expulsion of whole peoples. The larger point here is that mass mobilizations may be the opposite of liberatory, even if they involve ostensibly progressive goals. That doesn’t negate Pirani’s point that leftists should support the Ukrainian resistance, but we need to either sharpen our concept of “people’s war” or find a different yardstick altogether.

That said, Pirani does make a number of distinctive points in discussing why Russia chose to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in the first place. In broad terms, he emphasizes internal factors over external ones, and argues that among external factors, NATO expansion was much less important than the larger crisis of international capitalism.

By invading Ukraine and provoking harsh western sanctions, Putin’s government has “wrecked the Russian economy’s prospects” or, to put it differently, “has prioritized military adventure and associated political aims over the medium-term and perhaps long-term economic interests of Russian capital.” Despite Putin’s history of punishing even elite dissenters, some Russian capitalists, such as Lukoil’s board of directors, have openly called for an end to the war.

I think it would be helpful to consider this part of Pirani’s argument in relation to a recent debate between Ilya Matveev and Volodymyr Ishchenko on whether Russia’s invasion was economically rational or guided by imperial ideology. Central to this discussion was the idea that Russia now has a Bonapartist regime, in which the political elite exercises state power in the interests of big capitalists as a class but independent of any specific capitalist factions. (The discussion was sponsored by Salvage journal and Haymarket Books, and LeftEast published a summary.)

Many western leftists have argued that NATO expansion into eastern Europe threatened Russia’s security and thus provoked the Ukraine invasion as a defensive measure. Pirani rejects this argument for several reasons. He points out that most NATO expansion happened before 2004 and that it was motivated as much by eastern Europeans’ historically based fears of Russian dominance as by western imperialist aims. He argues further that NATO’s expansion was offset by its acceptance of Russia’s gendarme role within the latter’s own sphere of influence, as discussed above. In addition, blaming the Ukraine invasion on NATO expansion falsely portrays the Russian state as a victim—obscuring that state’s actual victims in the war—and underplays Russian internal dynamics: the re-emergence of the strong state, the tensions between economic interests and military-political ones, and the state’s uneasy relationship with its own population.

In the context of Russia’s internal dynamics, Pirani highlights two immediate factors behind the invasion: first, nationalist and militarist pressures from the increasingly powerful siloviki within the state. In Pirani’s words, “Putin could not be seen by hardliners in the military and security services to be the president who failed to undermine the Ukrainian state when he had the chance.” Second, Kremlin fears that the Ukrainian mass protest movement that toppled Yanukovych might spread to Russia. Pirani doesn’t directly say so, but these fears may have been heightened by the mass protests against the Belarusian dictatorship in 2020, which Russian military intervention helped crush.

On the most macro level, Pirani agrees that international capitalist forces brought about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but argues that these forces must be understood systemically—not as an inter-imperialist power play by western states but as “the broader crisis of 21st century capitalism”:

“It is this crisis that dashed the 1990s hopes of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, and many social democrats, that Russia would be integrated as a democratic European partner. Moreover, it is this same crisis that favored the rapacious form of capitalism on which Kremlin authoritarianism rests, and that produced the social unrest of the 2010s in both Russia and Ukraine that formed the backdrop for the initial outbreak of war in 2014.”

To reduce these dynamics to a “one-sided focus on NATO expansion,” Pirani argues, “has more in common with a distorted conspiracy theory than a coherent explanation.”

Pirani agrees that international capitalist forces brought about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but argues that these forces must be understood systemically—not as an inter-imperialist power play by western states but as “the broader crisis of 21st century capitalism.”

What to do

How should western leftists respond to the Ukraine war in practical terms? Pirani is cautious about answering this question in detail, but he does offer some broad recommendations. Some of these—such as denouncing anti-Russian bigotry and calling for all refugees to be welcomed regardless of ethnicity—are relatively uncontroversial on the left. His call for international solidarity with the anti-war movement in Russia, while a problem for active Kremlin supporters, would likely be shared by leftists whose position is based on the slogan “No war but class war.”

Because he sees the Russia-Ukraine conflict as a war of imperialist aggression, Pirani calls for solidarity with the Ukrainian people and their resistance, including armed resistance. That means movement support—presumably including material support—for Ukrainians who join territorial defense units and foreigners who travel to Ukraine to help the fight. It also means support for the delivery of weapons to Ukraine, but not support for a no-fly zone, because of the danger of triggering a wider war. (Gilbert Achcar, another leftist supporter of Ukrainian resistance, has argued for a similar distinction in more detail here and here.) Pirani is clearly reluctant and conflicted about some of the positions he advocates, warning that “military conflict inherently favours state machines and other hierarchies, and disfavours collectives and communities.” But this is one of those times when not taking a position is taking a position.


In a series of recent articles and interviews, Simon Pirani has offered one of the best overall analyses I have seen of the Russia-Ukraine war and the developments that have fueled it. Pirani’s approach combines a nuanced understanding of social and political dynamics with a deeply humanistic concern for how these dynamics affect actual people. He is rightly critical of those western leftists who prioritize opposition to the U.S. and NATO out of a one-dimensional approach to anti-imperialism. Although Pirani writes from a Marxist perspective, many anarchists and others could find his approach helpful. His analysis meshes well with in-depth discussions of various areas he touches on only briefly, such as accounts of anti-war resistance in Russia and of the Ukrainian state’s repressive and anti-working class policies.

Pirani’s analysis is certainly not the last word on Russia or Ukraine. For example, I suggested above that his treatment of the Russian state could benefit from dialog with conceptions of Putin’s regime as Bonapartist, and thus relatively autonomous from direct capitalist control. My criticisms of Pirani center on three issues. First, I think the far right’s role in Ukraine needs fuller discussion than Pirani provides. Second, I disagree with his claim that Putin’s Russia is moving toward fascism, because I believe fascism is best delineated from the establishment-based authoritarian nationalism Putin represents. Third, I agree with Pirani that western leftists should support Ukraine’s resistance while being mindful of its dangers, but I think his concept of “people’s war” unintentionally legitimizes certain mass-based, seemingly progressive wars of conquest. All of these criticisms are rooted in standard Three Way Fight arguments: that far right politics needs close attention, right-wing authoritarianism takes different forms and fighting them requires different strategies, and drives to strengthen oppression and systemic violence can come from below as well as from above.

These are limited criticisms, and none of them calls the substance of Pirani’s core arguments into question. Pirani has enriched my understanding of the Russia-Ukraine war and its significance for today’s world, and I hope many more readers will give his work the close attention it deserves. 

Thanks to John Garvey and Michael Pugliese for helpful discussions that informed this review, and to Xtn for comments and suggestions on an earlier draft.


One part of Pirani’s background requires special comment: he was a member of the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) from 1972 until its breakup in 1985. The WRP was a British Trotskyist group led by Gerry Healy that represented one of the most poisonous examples of left-wing sectarianism and abuses of power; the group splintered when Healy’s extensive sexual violence against female members was exposed. Pirani’s politics have moved far from the WRP’s vanguardist arrogance, and he has written thoughtfully and self-critically about his involvement in the WRP (which he joined at age 14) and its dissolution.

Simon Pirani works consulted

The Russian Statelets in the Donbas Are No ‘People’s Republics’” (Jacobin, 1 March 2022)
Ukraine: the sources of danger of a wider war” (People and Nature, 21 March 2022)
Is this monstrous war of aggression really between two equal sides?” (Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières, 21 March 2022)
Putin has sacrificed Russia’s economy for this war on Ukraine’s people” (Truthout, 24 March 2022)
Our movement needs a different politics that is concerned with Ukrainian and Russian people not governments” (Links, 1 April 2022)
Supporting the Ukrainian resistance. Six questions” (People and Nature, 19 April 2022)
The Russian empire is failing in its own way” (People and Nature, 1 June 2022)

Photo credits

1. Russian diaspora protest against war in Ukraine, photo by Silar, 6 March 2022 (CC BY-SA 4.0), via Wikimedia Commons.
2. Photo by State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, 10 March 2022 (CC BY 4.0), via Wikimedia Commons.