AMERICA's army commander in Europe has admitted he felt like a "knucklehead" after The Herald spotted that he'd got the geography of war-torn eastern Ukraine mixed up.

Lt General Ben Hodges revealed he had been teased by colleagues after this paper revealed he had wrongly located a key Ukrainian port at the centre of fighting in press briefings last week.

Speaking from Germany, he said: "I was impressed when you busted me out for not having my geography straight.

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"I felt like such a knucklehead. You made a great point, it was a little bit professionally embarrassing, so my team had some fun laughing at me."

Lt Gen Hodges has said that the port of Mariupol, subjected to horrendous shelling ahead of Sunday's ceasefire was on the Black Sea; not on the Sea of Azov.

This raised the eyebrows of former Soviet watchers on social media and elsewhere with some questioning just how much Nato understands the region.

However, the general, speaking to The Herald, said he had simply misspoken.

He said: "I felt like such a knucklehead because I am an old person so I love maps and I stare at the maps all the time and I knew Mariupol was on the Sea of Azov. I was careless or just screwed up."

Lt Gen Hodges and other experts - east and west - currently have their maps out, including sophisticated satellite imagery, to see whether Sunday's ceasefire is holding.

With more than 5000 dead and heavy artillery engaged against civilians it has had been feared that a deal agreed in the Belarus capital, Minsk, last week will not hold.

However, Lt Gen Hodges sees signs for hope. He said: "It looks like it is better than maybe many people expected. The ceasefire is off to a better started than some had predicted.

"The key is whether everybody, including the Russians, will pull back their artillery over the next couple of days."

He added: "I believe the pressure is one President Putin.

"People are criticising the agreement and saying Putin won - and maybe he did. I am not making a judgement on the quality of agreement.

"What I am going to be judging is the quality off the compliance."

Specifically, the general is looking for withdrawals of artillery and the release of prisoners.

However, he stressed that the ceasefire was being monitored by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which has no enforcement powers on the ground.

FOREIGN: PAGE 14