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“I want to make sure that the potential costs to the Russians in the event of a military incursion in Ukraine are as high as possible,” he said.

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, has said the United States is past due in providing direct military support to Ukraine. In the hours after the downing of the Malaysian airliner, he criticized the “cowardly” Obama administration for failing “to give the Ukrainians weapons with which to defend themselves.”

Mr. McCain told Fox News that the deadly crash warranted a weapons delivery from the United States to Ukraine so that its security forces are properly equipped to “regain their territory.”

The Pentagon has provided Ukraine with radios, individual first-aid kits, sleeping mats, neck gaiters, jackets and body armor but stopped short of offering anything that the country’s defense officials have requested that could be perceived as direct military assistance.

Over the next weeks to months, additional items will move through the procurement process, including night-vision devices, thermal imagers, helmets, explosive-ordnance disposal robots, and additional radios, Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said.

Defense Department officials say the equipment request list that Ukraine provided to the United States earlier this year is dated and “conditions may have changed.” In addition, that list is not based on a coherent defense strategy, one Pentagon official said.

“It’s important to keep in mind that one of the reasons we’re sending people over there now to help them establish enduring programs is because they don’t have enduring programs,” the official said. “So two months ago, when they generated their request list, that list wasn’t a result of a well-established defense strategy.”

Paul Schwartz, a national security analyst who specializes in Russia and Eurasia studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the Ukrainian defense capabilities “declined substantially after the Cold War” because of years of underinvestment. But he said the country’s forces still have the capabilities at least to engage the separatists.

“After a slow start, the Ukrainian military has proven sufficiently capable to make inroads on rebel-held territory in Eastern Ukraine,” he said.

Mr. Ganyard said it was unclear how successful the Pentagon team’s efforts might be. Before the United States can begin to rebuild Ukraine’s fractured military, he said, policymakers must decide what they want it to look like.

“What do we want them to be?” he asked. “Is it a force that stands on its own and can guard against all its borders? Or do we just want them to be able to defend themselves against Russia?”