FAST FIVE: Ukrainian Territories To Be Absorbed Into Russia By Week's End: Lawmaker

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Voting is set to conclude Tuesday in Donestk, Luhansk and the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, meaning as early as Wednesday or even Thursday announcements of results are likely to trickle out, paving the way for a potential Friday official declaration.

Russian media reports indicate: The lawmaker said Russian President Vladimir Putin could take part in the procedure on September 30.

Given that on Saturday Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov vowed new territories would be under Russia's “full protection” – there is more than likely to be a major uptick in the intensity of fighting to follow the referenda results announcement in eastern Ukraine.  The areas that will be considered part of the Russian Federation after the referendum, as the areas in yellow will be seen as occupied Russian lands that will witness an escalation in the military action to liberate them. – Спринтер (@Sprinter88000) September 23, 2022 Meanwhile, much has been made of both Putin's and top national security official Dmitry Medvedev's nuclear rhetoric of the past days.

What's being largely overlooked in Western media headlines are the Friday statements from Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who stressed that Moscow's nuclear doctrine hasn't changed.  “We are not threatening anyone with nuclear weapons,” Ryabkov said.

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