McDonald’s announced Tuesday that it’s temporarily closing roughly 850 restaurants in Russia amid the ongoing conflict with Ukraine. 

The chain employs roughly 62,000 in the country, and will continue paying salaries during the shutdown. About 84 percent of McDonald’s stores in Russia are company-owned, as well as all 108 units in Ukraine.  The two countries contribute 9 percent of annual revenue, or approximately $2 billion.

“We understand the impact this will have on our Russian colleagues and partners, which is why we are prepared to support all three legs of the stool in Ukraine and Russia,” CEO Chris Kempczinski said in a statement. 

Prior to the move, McDonald’s donated $5 million to assist Ukrainian team members and has provided medical care and humanitarian aid through Ronald McDonald House Charities. The chain has also supported relief efforts led by the International Red Cross. 

“As we move forward, McDonald’s will continue to assess the situation and determine if any additional measures are required,” Kempczinski said. “At this juncture, it’s impossible to predict when we might be able to reopen our restaurants in Russia. We are experiencing disruptions to our supply chain along with other operational impacts. We will also closely monitor the humanitarian situation.”

Yum! Brands, parent of Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, and The Habit Burger Grill, said it’s suspended all investment and restaurant development in Russia and operations of KFC company-owned restaurants. It’s also finalizing an agreement to suspend Pizza Hut units in partnership with its master franchisee. 

The company oversees roughly 1,000 KFC stores and 50 Pizza Hut units in the country, mostly under license or franchise agreements with independent owners. Yum! has more than 53,000 restaurants around the world, 98 percent of which are owned and operated by franchisees.

The brand will redirect all profits from Russia operations to humanitarian efforts, and will donate $1 million to the Red Cross. Yum! is also activating its disaster relief fund to support Ukrainian franchise employees and is matching donations from employees to UNICEF, Red Cross, World Food Programme, and International Rescue Committee. 

“Like so many across the world, we are shocked and saddened by the tragic events unfolding in Ukraine,” the company said in a statement. “Yum! Brands has suspended all investment and restaurant development in Russia while we continue to assess additional options.”

Starbucks, which has about 130 stores in Russia owned and operated by a licensed partner, ended operations, as well.  Before the announcement, the brand said it will donate royalties to humanitarian relief in Ukraine and that the Starbucks Foundation contributed $500,000 to World Central Kitchen and the Red Cross. 

“We continue to watch the tragic events unfold and, today, we have decided to suspend all business activity in Russia, including shipment of all Starbucks products,” CEO Kevin Johnson said in a statement. “Our licensed partner has agreed to immediately pause store operations and will provide support to the nearly 2,000 partners in Russia who depend on Starbucks for their livelihood.”

Papa Johns said it temporarily shut down corporate operations in Russia, and ceased all operational, marketing, and business engagement with the Russian market. There are 188 franchised Papa Johns restaurants in Russia, all operated by a master franchisee. In 2021, royalties from these stores represented fewer than 1 percent of company revenue and contributed roughly 1 percent of operating income. 

The chain is actively working to donate dry goods and ingredients to feed refugees through World Central Kitchen. 

“Papa Johns stands with much of the globe in condemning aggression and violence,” the company said in a statement. “We hope for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Ukraine, which today is hurting millions of innocent people, who are losing their homes, communities and people they love.”

Burger King has yet to shutter stores, but did commit $3 million to support Ukrainian refugees, which involves parent company Restaurant Brands International redirecting profits from Russia franchised operations to humanitarian efforts.

The donation includes a $1 million contribution to the United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, and distribution of $2 million worth of free Whopper meal vouchers to refugees arriving in more than 25 European countries. 

RBI has more than 29,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries, including 800 franchised Burger King restaurants in Russia managed by independent operators. 

“We are watching the attack on Ukraine and its people with horror and are focusing our efforts in the region on contributing to the safety of Ukrainians seeking shelter and security for their families,” RBI said in a statement. 

A number of major corporations have discontinued operations in Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, such as Ford, General Motors, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, BP and Shell. Before Tuesday’s announcement, McDonald’s was under pressure to join the growing list, with #boycottMcDonald’s circulating Twitter. 

Kempczinski said in more than 30 years of operating in Russia, McDonald’s has become an essential part of the community. But he also noted, “our values mean we cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine.”

He echoed the approach of former CEO Fred Turner, who said, “Do the right thing.” 

“That philosophy is enshrined as one of our five guiding values, and there are countless examples over the years of McDonald’s Corporation living up to Fred’s simple ideal,” Kempczinski said. “Today, is also one of those days.”

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