By Supantha Mukherjee
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Ericsson said Friday it only provides software and technical support to Russian customers and has not sold any telecommunications equipment to mobile operators there since the war started in Ukraine, after Swedish media reported the company had continued its exports.
The company’s shares fell 4.6% in morning trading.
Ericsson suspended its operations in Russia in April and said in August it would leave the country in the coming months. It registered a charge of 900 million Swedish kronor ($81 million) and made 400 workers in the country redundant as it shut down its operations.
“Consistent with the sanctions, we will provide the software and technical assistance for those products we shipped before the invasion, which will allow for withdrawal while fulfilling contractual obligations,” a spokesperson said.
“When the sanctions were announced, we stopped shipping to customers in Russia,” he said.
Rival Nokia, which also announced plans to leave Russia before the end of the year, had said it has limited maintenance of critical networks to meet its contractual and humanitarian obligations.
Sveriges Radio Ekot reported that Ericsson had applied for 12 licenses for exemptions from sanctions from the Swedish Strategic Products Inspectorate and was awarded seven.
The Swedish authority’s sanctions list includes software and technology related to telecommunications. It did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Ericsson said the licenses were for software and technical assistance.
“Although mobile telephony is for civilian use, an export license is required, mainly because of the advanced encryption technology built into our products, and this applies to all countries,” he said.
“Ericsson’s products are designed for civilian use, not military use.”
($1 = 11,1164 Swedish kronor)
(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm; editing by Toby Chopra)