Huge queues form outside Russian McDonald's as chain closes over Ukraine invasion

9 March 2022, 14:49

Huge queues form outside of Russian McDonalds
Huge queues form outside of Russian McDonalds. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Huge queues have been building at McDonald's across Russia after the fast food chain announced all branches would close in response to the Ukraine invasion.

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Videos have emerged on social media showing huge tailbacks of cars waiting to be served at McDonald's drive-throughs as residents clamber to get a last meal before the restaurants close.

Eye witnesses reported seeing cars blocking roads for up to "half a mile" as they patiently waited for happy meals and McFlurries.

The fast food giant first opened in Russia in 1990, giving most citizens their first taste of their iconic Western meals.

McDonald's announced all 850 restaurants across Russia will temporarily close, but the firm will continue to pay salaries to its 62,000 employees.

CEO Chris Kempczinski confirmed the closures yesterday saying the conflict in Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis in Europe has caused "unspeakable suffering to innocent people".

In a statement originally sent to employees, Mr Kempczinski said: "Working closely in consultation with our Chairman, Rick Hernandez, and the rest of McDonald's Board of Directors over the last week, McDonald's has decided to temporarily close all our restaurants in Russia and pause all operations in the market."

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The company announced they would continue to pay the salaries of all employees in Russia and Ukraine as well as donating $5 million to the Employee Assistance Fund, and continue to support relief efforts led by the International Red Cross in the region.

McDonald's added that the firm will continue to "assess the situation and determine if any additional measures are required" but said it is "impossible to predict" when restaurants might be able to reopen.

Explaining the decision, Mr Kempczinski said: "As a system, we join the world in condemning aggression and violence and praying for peace. Our number one priority from the start of this crisis has been – and will remain – our people.

"The situation is extraordinarily challenging for a global brand like ours, and there are many considerations. For 66 years, we have operated with the belief that communities are made better when there's a McDonald's nearby.

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"In Russia, we employ 62,000 people who have poured their heart and soul into our McDonald's brand to serve their communities. We work with hundreds of local, Russian suppliers and partners who produce the food for our menu and support our brand.

"And we serve millions of Russian customers each day who count on McDonald's. In the thirty-plus years that McDonald's has operated in Russia, we've become an essential part of the 850 communities in which we operate.

"At the same time, our values mean we cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine."

Starbucks also announced its 100 coffee shops would shut in Russia following in the steps of major brands including Apple, Nike, Ikea, Google, Coca-Cola, Netflix, KFC and Pizza Hut.

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