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McDonald’s exits major market for first time with Russia departure

Burger chain McDonald’s is to close all its Russian restaurants, marking the first time it has ever exited a major international market. It is another big brand boycotting Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.

Russian citizens will no longer be able to order McDonald’s or work at its restaurants after the company announced it will be selling all 850 of its Russian eateries.

It comes in response to Putin’s recent military aggression and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. McDonald’s says it will look to find a buyer of its buildings and re-employ all 62,000 working Russians. The chain will also continue to pay all wages until a deal is reached.

This move follows a long line of major brands and large companies in oil, tech, and electricity boycotting or removing themselves from Russian markets.

McDonald’s chief executive Chris Kempczinski said in a message to staff and suppliers that ‘this is a complicated issue without precedent’.

He added that it is ‘impossible to ignore the humanitarian crisis’ and that the famous golden arches of the company’s logo ‘represent hope and promise’.

This sudden exit marks an end to an era of economic hope and Western embrace in Russia.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, many larger brands from overseas were eager to tap into Russia’s large population, bringing citizens from either side of the globe closer together through similar brand consumption and popular culture.

While companies ‘paused’ Russian operations in March, McDonald’s permanent closure and retreat indicates that it recognises that things will not return to normal.

Russia’s stance, global position, and diplomatic reputation is damaged long-term. The initial hope of opening the country up to Western influence and markets in the late twentieth century has fully dissolved.

Car manufacturer Renault announced it was selling its business in Russia just a few days ago, too. Starbucks, Coca Cola, Levi’s, Apple, and hundreds more are following suit.

All these brands pulling their businesses away from Russian’s will isolate the country and no doubt damage its economic growth moving forward. We’ll need to see how this will cause problems for Russia moving forward.

There’ll be no Big Mac’s on offer, that’s for sure.


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