As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine approaches its second anniversary, Vladimir Putin looks to be sitting pretty.
His forces have thwarted Ukraine’s counter-offensive and are hunkered down in the country’s east ahead of an expected springtime push to consolidate territory.
At home, the Kremlin’s propaganda machine has successfully spun the brutal invasion of its neighbour into a tale of survival and resistance against the domineering, imperial West.
And the independent Levada Centre polls show his approval rating sky-high at 83 per cent, with his march to yet another term in office following the upcoming presidential elections in March practically guaranteed.
But in the face of severe economic sanctions and with his country diplomatically and technologically isolated from the Western world, Putin must continue to forge key partnerships elsewhere if he wants to keep the circus in motion.
And this has led him to the doorstep of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Iran represents a grave threat to the West, sitting behind a host of burgeoning militias that threaten to destabilise the security of the whole region.
But Tehran’s disdain for the US and its allies, military might, and status as a highly influential force in the Middle East make it a perfect match for Moscow.
Now, with the two powers seemingly on the cusp of agreeing a formal strategic partnership, MailOnline breaks down how this diabolical pairing could plunge the world further into chaos.