Global fast food franchise McDonald’s has announced that it will be selling its Russian operation.
The company’s presence in Russia was an icon of its integration into the global capitalist economy markets, being one of the first Western companies to open in the country as the communist Soviet regime was on its last legs.
Photo of Muscovites queuing around the block to get their first taste of American hamburgers travelled around the world, becoming iconic in their own right.
Now, after 32 years of operation, and with over 800 restaurants and 62,000 employees, McDonald’s has declared that its “continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values,” and that it is seeking a local buyer.
The announcement comes almost three months into Europe’s first land war in a generation, after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine, and just over two months since McDonald’s paused operations in the country.
“It is impossible to ignore the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. And it is impossible to imagine the Golden Arches representing the same hope and promise that led us to enter the Russian market 32 years ago,” Chief Executive Officer Chris Kempczinski said in a letter to employees.
As one of the most recognisable symbols of American capitalism, McDonald’s exit from Russia amidst war and sanctions will come as a bitter pill for those who believe in that strong trade links can deter conflict.
“We have a commitment to our global community and must remain steadfast in our values,” said Mr Kempczinski. “And our commitment to our values means that we can no longer keep the Arches shining there.”
The company said it will ensure that its Russian employees continue to be paid until the close of any transaction, and assured them that they have future jobs with any potential buyer.
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