Prior to the plane crash, the Ukrainian government and American officials accused Moscow of secretly sending commandos into eastern Ukraine to foment instability. For instance, one of the rebel’s military leaders, Ukraine says, is actually a former Russian intelligence agent from Moscow.
“They are soldiers of fortune, Rambo types who have fought in Russian wars,” former White House counter-terrorism advisor and current ABC News consultant Richard Clarke said last week. “They are people in close contact with the Russian security services, people who have apartments and homes in Moscow, and people who are probably being paid by Russian security services to be the military heart and core of the rebels… These are the dogs of war.”
Putin has denied Russian military troops are active in Ukraine, but said back in March that Russia reserves the right to use military force to protect Russians there.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.