World leaders left waiting for Putin's next move wonder whether it will make war more or less likely

ITV News Correspondent Neil Connery reports on the developing crisis from Moscow

When Russia’s Ministry of Defence announced on Tuesday that some of its troops would be withdrawing from near Ukraine’s border many thought it signalled a beginning of a de-escalation in tensions. But there’s a danger in reading too much into this one announcement in such a complex and volatile situation.

It is actions on the ground which matter most and the coming days will tell us if this marks the start of a rowing back in Russia’s position.

Where are Russian troops stationed and how many are there?

There is, however, also a risk in ignoring the potential opportunity it could offer to help bring the temperature down at such a critical time.

Has Russia reached a point where it thinks it’s achieved its aims? While NATO and western governments look closely at Russia’s actions, the words coming from President Vladimir Putin matter too and suggest this remains a dangerous situation.

In the past 24 hours, he has again made clear that his security concerns must be taken seriously when it comes to Ukraine. That doesn’t sound like someone who’s got what they wanted. He’s also repeated his claim that there are human rights violations in Ukraine’s Donbass region calling it a "genocide". This isn’t the first time other world leaders are left scratching their heads trying to work out President Putin’s next move, wondering if war is more or less likely?

The choices made by Vladimir Putin in the coming days will decide whether a war begins or not. Credit: AP

Moscow says this current impasse is more than just about Ukraine. Russia wants to see a wider "re-booting" over a number of security issues in Eastern Europe. The challenge for NATO and the West is calibrating whether a way can be found to reach agreement over Ukraine and the wider security concerns in a way that protects Ukraine’s sovereignty. President Putin insists he doesn’t want war but in Washington and other western capitals they’re urgently trying to work out what can be done to defuse the tensions which could so easily lead to one.

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