The Impact of McDonald’s Decision to Temporarily Close 850 Locations in Russia



After McDonald’s announced their temporary closures it had effects they did not expect.

Imaan Moten, Photojournlist

McDonald’s is the icon of American fast food.  When you are looking for a quick, casual meal that is American to a fault, one immediately thinks of the classic McDonald’s. From its constant branding, celebrity partnerships, and availability, McDonald’s has become one of the most popular fast food chains on the planet. 

With this said, McDonald’s is not only a staple in the US but also in Russia. Russia has over 850 locations that have been open since 1990. With these locations comes a number of other factors such as employees and sourcing. In fact, in Russia McDonald’s employs 62,000 people and claims to have become an “essential part” of the 850 communities in which they operate (Washington Post).

In response to Russia’s recent decision to invade Ukraine, activists and investors pressed McDonald’s to take action. McDonald’s then announced that it would temporarily close its 850 restaurants with the statement, “Our values mean we cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine.” The company acknowledged the tight relationship the chain has developed with the Russian people in the 32 years since it opened its first restaurant. It speaks to the hundreds of local Russian suppliers and partners who produce its food and support the brand, as well as its millions of Russian customers who count on McDonald’s every day. 

The company is careful to maintain its relationship that has developed, and it made a point to say that it will continue to pay its Russian employees through this period of temporary closure. Even then, this will have a significant impact on people who might rely on McDonald’s in other ways. Closing a company this large will most definitely have an even larger effect, but given the drastic situation, many companies including McDonald’s feel that they have no choice but to stop business in the country. 

Another line of significance that McDonald’s has for the Russian people is that it is a symbol of the Post-Cold War era. McDonald’s was the first American fast food restaurant to enter the Soviet Union, reflecting the new political openness of the era. For the Russian people, McDonald’s is a sign of optimism and new opportunities and the news of McDonald’s closing has some of them now feeling nervous. Another effect these closures have had is that Russians are flooding a popular online resale platform with listings for McDonald’s menu items with some trying to charge exorbitant amounts for basic cheeseburgers. A student from YLHS Adil Ismail (10) comments on this saying that “ it’s crazy to think of how one company can have such a big effect”.