“Referendums” over whether certain occupied or partially-occupied Ukrainian regions should formally be annexed by Russia got underway on Friday.

Citizens in the Luhansk, Kherson and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions of Ukraine were reportedly casting their ballots amid the backdrop of the ongoing war.

In a video posted on his Telegram channel, separatist leader Denis Pushilin in the Russian-recognized Donetsk People’s Republic said: “This referendum is decisive, it is the breakthrough into a new reality.”

The Kremlin-orchestrated ballots, which have been widely denounced by Ukraine and the West as shams, are seen as a move toward annexing the territories by Russia.

The vote, which asks residents if they want their regions to be part of Russia, is almost certain to go Moscow’s way. That would give Moscow the pretext to claim that attempts by Ukrainian forces to regain control are attacks on Russia itself.

The “referendums,” which will take place across five days, follow President Vladimir Putin’s order of a partial mobilization, which could add as many as 300,000 Russian conscripts to the fight.

Here’s a roundup of other news in or concerning the war in Ukraine on September 23.

Ericsson said it is providing only limited technical support in Russia

Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson said the company is only providing software and technical support to Russian clients. The company clarified its position and said it has not sold any equipment to mobile operators in Russia since Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24.

Ericcson was responding to speculation in Swedish media that suggested the telecommunications firm had continued to export equipment to Russia. Following the reports, shares in Ericsson dropped 4.6% in morning trading.

The Stockholm-based company suspended its business in Russia in April. In August it communicated that it would exit the country entirely in the coming months.

Finland notices continued increase in traffic as Russians flee mobilization orders

Finland said there continues to be an increase in traffic across its southeastern border with Russia, the border guard told news agency Reuters.

According to the guard, the number of Russians who entered Finland on Thursday had more than doubled in comparison with the previous week’s tally for the same day.

Finland is considering blocking most Russians from entering as traffic arriving from its neighbor “intensified” on Thursday. 

jsi/ar (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP)

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