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McDonald’s in Russia: how many Russian outlets does chain have - and why it’s leaving country after 30 years

The fast food chain opened its first Russian restaurant in Moscow in 1990

<p>Vladimir Putin will no longer be able to enjoy a Big Mac and fries as McDonald’s has halted its Russian operation (images: AFP/Getty Images) </p>

Vladimir Putin will no longer be able to enjoy a Big Mac and fries as McDonald’s has halted its Russian operation (images: AFP/Getty Images)

One of the biggest symbols of the end of the Cold War - before even the collapse of the Soviet Union - was the arrival of McDonald’s in Russia.

The fast food giant opened its first Russian restaurant in Moscow’s Pushkin Square in 1990.

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But on Monday (16 May), the chain announced it would no longer be serving Big Macs, fries and McMuffins to those under the rule of President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin regime.

So, why has McDonald’s made this decision - and how many of its outlets will be closing?

Russia’s first McDonald’s opened in Moscow in January 1990 (image: AFP/Getty Images)

Here’s what you need to know.

Why has McDonald’s closed its Russia operation?

McDonald’s has terminated its operations in Russia due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

In early March, a matter of days after the Kremlin’s war against its neighbour began, the company suspended all of its operations in Russia.

At the time, it said it would continue to pay its Russian staff.

McDonald’s suspended its Russian operations in early March 2022 (image: AFP/Getty Images)

McDonald’s joined fellow major US food and drink firms Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Starbucks in suspending its Russian operations.

But now the Chicago-based giant has revealed the suspension is set to become permanent, as it has started the process of selling off its Russian assets.

A prospective buyer has not been identified, the PA news agency reports.

Russian consumers will no longer be able to enjoy a cheeky McDonald’s (image: Getty Images)

McDonald’s has said it will keep its trademarks in Russia, but its famous golden arches and signage would be removed from sight.

What did McDonald’s say about leaving Russia?

In a brief statement, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said the move had come as a result of the humanitarian impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The war has led to thousands of deaths and has forced millions of Ukrainians to flee their home country.

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has been condemned across the world (image: AFP/Getty Images)

“We have a commitment to our global community and must remain steadfast in our values,” said Mr Kempczinsk.

“Our commitment to our values means that we can no longer keep the arches shining [in Russia].”

The McDonald’s boss added that the “dedication and loyalty to McDonald’s” of employees and hundreds of Russian suppliers had made it a tough decision.

McDonald’s says it expects to record a charge against earnings of between $1.2 billion (£980 million) and $1.4 billion dollars (£1.1 billion) over its decision to exit Russia.

How many Russian outlets did McDonald’s have?

McDonald’s has more than 39,000 outlets across more than 100 countries all over the world.

But there will now be 850 fewer restaurants as a result of the chain leaving Russia - although McDonald’s has said it has still forecast opening a net 1,300 restaurants in 2022.

The golden arches supported 62,000 jobs in Russia, meaning the US giant’s decision will have a major impact on the Russian economy.

Most McDonald’s sites are owned and run by franchisees, with only around 5% being under the direct ownership of the company.

All of its sites in Ukraine are currently closed, as the war in the country continues.

But McDonald’s said it is still paying the wages of its Ukrainian employees.