On October 25, Russian columnist Oleg Bondarenko published an article, titled "Poor Merkel," subtitled "How The Chancellor Of Germany Became A Hostage Of The Minsk Process And What Is In Store For Her" in the Moscow-based daily newspaper Moskovskij Komsomolets. The article was published following the Normandy Group's October 19 meeting in Berlin, attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. According to Bondarenko, the future of the Minsk agreement depends on how long Merkel remains chancellor. "It is unlikely that a new German chancellor, precisely the French president, will voluntarily assume the unbearable burden of forcing Ukraine to fulfill anything." Bondarenko added.
Below are excerpts from Bondarenko's article:
'The Main Obstacle On [Merkel's] path Is Not The Russian Leader... But The Ukrainian President'
"Aside from the understandable desire to minimize the risks of the escalating violence in Europe, the last week's Berlin meeting of the Normandy Four had other goals as well. It's not fully acceptable to speak openly about this subject, because it slightly undermines the already shaken status of departing European leaders, who, decided that the American 'changing of the guards' is the proper time to reiterate their own [crucial] role.
"German chancellor Angela Merkel, the main 'activist' of the Minsk process, is no longer happy that she initiated it a year and half ago. For her ratings in her country and within her [Christian Democratic] party and, finally, her ability to become a German chancellor for the third time  - all depend on the successful realization of the Minsk agreement. That's why today 'frau chancellor has a greater interest than anyone else in the effectiveness of the agreements reached by Ukraine and People Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. However, the major obstacle in her path is not the Russian leader [Vladimir Putin], as some seek to imply , but the Ukrainian president [Petro Poroshenko]. After having in fact admitted, that he agreed to the Minsk Protocol of February 12, 2015 because of the difficult military-political circumstances (the Debaltseve defeat of the Ukrainian Army), today Poroshenko attempts to postpone or to wreck the fulfillment of the agreements. This is totally unacceptable to his guarantors, and first and foremost to Merkel.
"This is all fully clear to the current French leader [Francois Hollande] - a president with the lowest rating and level of trust in the entire history of the Fifth Republic, who cannot count on even reaching the second round of the Spring elections, as he unconditionally loses to two favorites - Nicolas Sarkozy and Marine Le Pen. This makes him a'lame duck' in any negotiations.
"Vladimir Putin, who justly assumes that the agreements, reached after 16 hours of discussion in Minsk [on February 12, 2015], suit the interests of Russia and Donbas, prefers to fulfill them pedantically and to avoid replacing the original principles with the new ones - which Ukraine attempts to do every time. By and large, each day of delay in implementing the Minsk [agreements] only widens the abyss between Donbas and Kiev and actively transforms the People Republics into independent proto-states. The well-known expert opinion is: that for the establishment of new state [if it is effective] five years will suffice. This is the'point of no return,' after which any reintegration process is quite difficult to start. In the coming winter it will be three years. Vladimir Surkov, president [Putin's] assistant, was correct in calling the Minsk process the creeping sovereignty of Donbas.
"Poroshenko, for his part, is uninterested in the mutinous region's return to Ukraine and especially under special conditions, as its population is clearly anti-Kiev. The specter of inevitable federalization haunts Petro Alexeyevich [Poroshenko's patronym] everywhere. But it is hard to tell it to the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. She might misunderstand. Hence Angela Merkel remains alone as the engine of the Minsk process, its initiator and hostage.
Source: Twitter.com/sharzhipero, August 8, 2016.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel portrayed as a US' puppet.
On the bat: "Sanctions"
On the megaphone:"Blackmail"
'The Fate Of The [Minsk] Agreement Depends Directly On How Long Will Merkel Retains Her Present Office'
"Less than a year remains till the next German Bundestag elections, the results of which will usher in a new ruling coalition headed by a new chancellor. Presently, Merkel has a very narrow space to maneuver: she personifies last year's migration collapse under the aegis of'New European policy' on the one hand, and on the other - the anti-Russia sanctions, as Washington's main European ally. The role of the producer of the Minsk agreement hardly fits these directions, particularly because its (non )realization requires pressuring Poroshenko, not Moscow.
"Somehow, appearing as Putin's ally (even if involuntarily) does not enter the chancellor's plans. So she has to balance between the publicly anti-Russia rhetoric and the simultaneous necessity of'tough negotiations' with Poroshenko who, naturally, uses every opportunity for anti-Putin tirades and is therefore in no hurry to guarantee the Minsk process. Thus the agreement's fate directly depends on how long Merkel retains her present office. It is unlikely that a new German chancellor, precisely like the French president, will voluntarily assume the unbearable burden of forcing Ukraine to fulfill anything. The only exception would be the threat of war in Europe. In any other case the Minsk agreement might end when two of its four guarantors are replaced.
"The current Berlin agreements of the Normandy Four mean the reinforcement of the OSCE mission, more disengagement of forces zones, and designing the' road map' for implementing the Minsk [agreement] as the German foreign minister had stipulated (the temporary special status for Donbas on the local election day, the permanent status after recognition by the OSCE mission of those elections) - this is the essence of the declaration of intent, and then must attempt to reach further agreement. Will Kiev want to coordinate the Minsk 'road map' till the end of November, as it was declared in Berlin, moreover as it provides the coveted control over the borders only after the end of the hated political and constitutional changes? And will Poroshenko have the power for it? Alas [not].
"But maybe my skepticism is excessive. And at some moment Angela Merkel will glance at her uncontrollably falling ratings against the backdrop of the yeast-like growth of confidence in 'Putin's friends'" while the trust for Putin friends is on the constant rise - euro-skeptics from the Alternative for Germany [AfD] and anti-globalists of the Left party - and will pick the phone and say with her exacting, school-like, voice:'Petro, stop this circus, pass the constitutional amendments and conduct the elections in Donbas, or else...'
"I'm afraid she will not call and say it. For otherwise she'll have to admit that the coup d'état of February 2014, which she supported too, against the acting president of Ukraine (do you recall the name [former Ukrainian president Viktor] Yanukovich?), was a mistake. But it is too late to correct that mistake. And that cannot but affect the rating..."
 Mk.ru, October 24, 2016.
 On October 19, Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Berlin with German chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, to discuss the Syrian crisis. The Russian delegation at the talks included Presidential aide Yuri Ushakov and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Before the meeting, Putin had a telephone conversation with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Berlin talks also discussed the situation in Ukraine in the Normandy group (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine) framework.
Kremlin.ru, October 20, 2016.
 Actually, this would be the fourth time. Merkel first became chancellor in 2005 and retained the post following the 2009 and 2013 Bundestag elections.
 Although Merkel is a sanctions hawk, she was stymied by her SPD coalition partners, who are nostalgic for the détente policy towards Russia (emphasized by former SPD chancellors Willy Brandt and Helmut Schroeder) and is preparing to use its conciliatory approach towards Russian in next year's general election campaign.
Spiegel.de/international, October 18, 2016.
 On August 31, the German daily Die Zeit published an article showing that 30 percent of the right wing anti-immigration, Euroskeptic party Alternative for Germany's (AfD) supporters and 31 percent of Germany's leftwing democratic socialist Die Linke's supporters (which include former East German Communists) trust Putin more than German Chancellor Angela Merkel. With supporters of other German parties the level of those finding Putin more trustworthy than Merkel drops below 10%.
It is worth noting that in the September 4 elections in the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania the AfD outpolled German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), taking 20.8 percent of the vote (the first time in the history of the Federal Republic that the CDU has been outpolled by a party to its right). The SPD (center-left Social Democrats) got 30.6%, AfD got 20.8%, while the CDU got 19%, which is considered to be its worst result in the state. In the September 18 Berlin regional elections, the SPD won the most seats, 21.6, while the CDU finished with 17.6 percent. The electoral surprise though was the AfD that won 14.2 percent of the seats.
Sputniknews.com, September 1, 2016; Zeit.de, August 31, 2016; Dw.com, September 5, 2016; Dw.com, September 18, 2016.