You'll No Longer Be Able To Eat McDonald's In Russia. Here's Why

When the first Russian McDonald's opened its doors in Moscow's Pushkin Square in January 1990, Russians lined up for hours to get a taste of the American fast-food brand so different from their own restaurants in the then Soviet Union, according to the Washington Post. As the first American fast-food chain to go beyond the iron curtain (via AP News), the golden arches were a potent symbol of Western capitalism and the country's new openness to the West. Only a year later, in December 1991, the Soviet hammer and sickle flag would be lowered from over the Kremlin for the final time while the golden arches remained (via NPR).

Now, Russian McDonald's are closing their doors for the last time, and it may become impossible to get a true Big Mac, McFlurry, or McNuggets anywhere in Russia for a very long time. On May 16, McDonald's announced that it would close all of its roughly 850 Russian locations (via The Guardian). This move comes after the decision in early March to temporarily suspend all business in Russia. Beverage companies Starbucks, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo also suspended operations in the region around the same time, citing Russia's assault on Ukraine as the reason for their decision.

McDonalds closes more than 800 Russian stores permanently

According to The Guardian, Mcdonald's said that operating in Russia is no longer "consistent with McDonald's Values." The company pointed to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the resulting humanitarian crisis as one of the reasons for the decision along with the unstable operating environment in Russia.  Ukraine has been the site of heavy artillery strikes, and battles between ground forces since Russia invaded the country on February 24, 2022 (via USNews).

McDonald's chief executive Chris Kempczinski says that the company has a commitment to the global community and its own values that make it impossible to ignore the damage caused by the Russian assault. "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," said Kempczinki in a letter to employees (per The Guardian).

The company will close its roughly 850 locations by removing all logos, branding, and signage before selling them, although it plans to keep its trademark.

McDonald's Russian and Ukrainian locations make up about 9% of their annual revenue, which totals approximately $2 billion.