James Mates

Europe Editor

As Europe Editor, James Mates reports and adds analysis to the most significant stories and complex events taking place in Europe. James also regularly presents ITV News programmes.

Dilemma in Ukraine ceasefire is why they want to talk

It is quiet so far in Mauripol - a much quieter evening than yesterday and no reports of any breaches. But these are the early hours. What is not such good news is that Ukraine continues to insist that nothing in this agreement is going to breach the territorial integrity of its country.

The rebels for their part insist they are no longer part of the Ukraine, nor will they ever be. The real dilemma here is why have they agreed to start talking? Is it, as President Obama said today, because the Russians are suffering so badly from sanctions they now want to talk?

Or is it actually because Putin has got what he wants and that his threat to move further into Ukraine is what is persuading the Ukrainians to talk, in the knowledge that they cannot beat the Russians in a straight fight?

Questions over Putin's suggestion of postponing vote

There are two key questions about the comments from President Putin and his suggestion that Sunday's independence referendum should be postponed. Firstly, does he mean it? He has said this before. Russia has committed itself to a big de-escalation before, in Geneva, just before Easter.

They never followed through, and Nato is already disputing the claim tonight that he is withdrawing his tanks from the border. So this may just be another diplomatic game, trying to keep his opponents off balance, guessing as to his intentions.

But it is also possible that he is getting worried about how bad it's getting in Ukraine. We have heard comparisons with the early days in Bosnia. If that were to happen, it would cost Russia very dear, both in terms of sanctions and the possibility that civil war could spill over into Russia.

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