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Russia has continued to provide military equipment to Ukrainian separatists since the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, with at least 20 vehicles — including tanks and armored personnel carriers — crossing the border on Tuesday, according to senior U.S. intelligence officials. The Russians stepped up their deliveries of vehicles and rockets launchers in the weeks prior to the airliner being shot down on Thursday, said one official, adding that the buildup occurred as the Ukrainian military was making advances against separatists strongholds.

Russia has been "very deliberate" about supplying the rebels, the official said, sending the same equipment that the Ukrainian military uses so it has deniability about the source of the equipment. In once instance, the official said, it sent tanks that are no longer in service in Russia to separatists so they would have the same models as the Ukrainian military. Another senior intelligence official said that Putin also continues to call for volunteers to fight in Ukraine.


- Courtney Kube