Earlier this year we discussed the possibility that sanctions and other international pressure on Venezuela might not do much to deter their dictator, Nicolas Maduro. The reason for pessimism is that Venezuela has powerful friends who have no trouble with a dictator taking control of another nation in the western hemisphere. China is near the top of Maduro’s list of friends, but this week the tyrant will have a meeting with another powerful ally.

Maduro will be sitting down today for a meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The two leaders will reportedly be discussing a “strategic partnership” for moving forward, even as Venezuela’s citizens are starving in the streets. (Jamaica Observer)

Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro will meet Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, the Kremlin said, as the South American leader seeks support after months of political turmoil in his country…

Maduro will be in Moscow “on a working visit,” notably to take part in an international energy forum, the Kremlin said in a statement.

The two leaders will discuss the “development of strategic partnership of the two countries,” the statement added without saying whether the two leaders would discuss economic aid for Venezuela.

If there was any doubt about this before it can be put to rest. China has already protested broad sanctions against Venezuela and indicated that they will refuse to participate. They’ve also expressed their support for Maduro and his ability to manage his own country’s affairs internally. And now he’s been invited to Moscow for a very prestigious meeting with Putin as a visiting head of state. This seems to be in line with the fact that Russian aircraft were recently seen flying scheduled “training missions” over Caracas while Maduro was giving a public address.

The messages here are far from subtle. Not only will China and Russia offer economic support to the Maduro regime, but if things become too violent on the protest front, Russia has military resources within striking distance to make sure that he stays in power. To say this is bad news for the democratic opposition is an understatement.

That wasn’t the only uncomfortable meeting on tap this week. Do you remember our supposed ally in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan? Guess where he’s holding meetings this week. If you said “Irangive yourself a cookie. (ABC News)

Iran’s state TV is reporting the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is visiting Iran as Tehran and Ankara weigh how to respond to the Kurdish independence referendum in Iraq.

Erdogan arrived in Tehran on Wednesday and was greeted at the Mehrabad airport by Mohammad Shariatadari, minister of industry and mining.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will welcome him officially at the Sadabad complex later in the day.

Iran and Turkey are among many countries that opposed the Kurdish referendum in Iraq.

This situation makes the recent bromance between Erdogan and President Trump all the more uncomfortable. We’re being forced to the sidelines in the Kurdish independence bid and Turkey clearly plans to be an active (and perhaps military) obstacle to the Kurds going forward. Their recent plebiscite on independence is lining up nearly every country in the region, including some we count as allies, against them.

But we’re also in the middle of a debate over cancelling the Iran nuclear deal, something Trump made a centerpiece of in his presidential campaign. Our deteriorating ties with Iran (not that they’ve been good in decades) is taking place just as our key ally in that region is becoming one of Iran’s new best friends.

The international diplomacy scene has grown more complicated over the past five years than I’ve ever seen it in my lifetime. And for once it’s not just centered in one isolated region such as Israel and Palestine. Old bonds are being broken or strained all over the globe while other, potentially more sinister alliances are forming. It’s going to take some extremely skillful diplomacy to keep a lid on all the pots we have boiling right now.