Many (western) sources claim that Putin (actively) supports the rebels in eastern Ukraine, more specifically the Donbass People's Militia. For example, BBC News writes:

Russia was obviously supporting the militants in the Donbass region, while still pursuing a policy of plausible deniability.

And Kerry claims there is an enormous array of facts that Russia supported rebels, but remains vague. However, when checking the collection Wikipedia has made for the militants' war material, most of it appears to be stolen from military bases, captured, or even taken from museums. Wikipedias sources are incomplete, but the table doesn't list anything that can only have come from Russia.

The claim that Putin supports the rebels in eastern Ukraine is a rather strong one with profound political implications, so it deserves to be studied carefully.

What publicly available evidence is there for the claim that Russia supports the Donpass People's Militia?

Edit: By support, I mean that the national government of Russia provides direct support, in the form of money, training, by sending personnel, or otherwise, to the rebels. I am not skeptical of claims that Russian volunteers are fighting with the rebels.


A few days ago correspondents of two British newspapers, The Guardian and The Telegraph, saw a column of 23 armored personnel carriers entering Ukraine from Russia.

Obviously, volunteers are unable to buy that kind of military equipment without the assistance from Russian government.

Update As pointed by the commenter @ChrisW, both articles have direct evidence there were Russian military vehicles in the convoy. For example, The Telegraph wrote: While the APCs carried no visible markings the fuel tankers and soft-skinned trucks in the convoy bore black Russian military number plates.

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    And the Guardian article says the same: "The Guardian saw a column of 23 armoured personnel carriers, supported by fuel trucks and other logistics vehicles with official Russian military plates, travelling towards the border near the Russian town of Donetsk – about 200km away from Donetsk, Ukraine."
    – ChrisW
    Aug 19 '14 at 22:12
  • Corrected. However, we (by that I mean Russian speaking people on the Internets) have repeatedly saw Russian military vehicles “travelling towards the border”. Example: youtube.com/watch?v=1mm-lgnSnU4 The response from pro-Putin commenters is usually “They have a reason to be there: military exercise is going on near the border. Do you have a video showing such vehicles crossing the border?”
    – Soonts
    Aug 19 '14 at 22:23
  • Do I have such a video? No, I'm just reading the articles/reports which you referenced as evidence in your answer: "While it was not immediately clear whether all of that convoy crossed the border, The Telegraph did see a substantial number of vehicles pass through check point manned by gunmen after shadowing the convoy down narrow country lanes near the frontier. While the force did not seem to be a substantial invasion force, it confirms that military supplies are moving across the border."
    – ChrisW
    Aug 19 '14 at 22:27
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