McDonald’s announced Monday it would exit the Russian market completely after more than three decades, setting the scene for the sale of its 850 restaurants in the country.
The Chicago-based fast-food chain temporarily closed its Russian stores in March in response to the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine, but continued to pay its 62,000 workers full salaries. Now, McDonald’s says it is seeking a Russian buyer who will continue to pay its employees at least until a sale closes while it begins removing its iconic golden arches from stores across Russia.
“We have a commitment to our global community and must remain steadfast in our values,” said McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski in a statement, adding the chain’s presence was “no longer tenable” in Russia. “Our commitment to our values means that we can no longer keep the arches shining there.”
The burger giant is the oldest U.S. fast-food chain in Russia. It opened its first restaurant in central Moscow in January 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall, to queues of thousands of people.
Its departure symbolizes how radically relations between Russia and the West have soured since President Vladimir Putin launched his new assault on Ukraine.
Almost 1,000 Western companies have curtailed their operations in Russia since the war began in late February, including fellow fast-food brands Domino’s Pizza and Burger King.
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