McDonald's, Starbucks, Coca-Cola halt sales in Russia
France 24

McDonald's have temporarily closed all 847 restaurants in the country in a "hugely symbolic" move.

The fast-food giant was one of the first Western restaurants to open in Russia back in January 1990, during the final months of the Soviet Union.

Over 30,000 people queued for their meals across 27 cash registers. A further 27,000 people applied for jobs with only 600 positions available. This new Western opening represented the thawing of Cold War tensions and a move towards peace.

This move, largely impacted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, could now undo the last 30 years of peace between the two nations.

In an open letter, McDonald's president and CEO Chris Kempckinski announced McDonald's would be closing almost 1,000 stores.

"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," he penned.

"Our values mean we cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine."

Kempckinski added that McDonald's would continue to pay employees' wages.

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BBC's Moscow correspondent, Steve Rosenberg, turned to Twitter to comment on the "symbolic" decision.

He wrote: "In 1990, I was in the queue when McDonald's opened its 1st restaurant in Moscow: when iron curtains were crumbling & Russia was embracing the West. Today McDonald's announced it is temporarily closing its 850 restaurants in Russia. Hugely symbolic."

Another recalled their personal resonance with the opening:"Oh, the deliciousness of the milkshake, my first taste of America at the Moscow McDonald's in the early 1990s. While mom waited at the US embassy to submit our refugee papers, grandma & I stood in the snaking McD line," they said.

Many other leading brands have followed suit, with Coca Cola, Starbucks and Mastercard halting their operations in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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