Al Jazeera

Consumer giants including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Starbucks have joined the list of firms halting business in Russia due to the invasion in Ukraine.

McDonald’s said it was temporarily closing its roughly 850 restaurants in Russia, while Starbucks also said its 100 coffee shops would shut.

Starbucks is said to have shut down 100 coffee shops in Russia

McDonald’s said the move was a response to the “needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine”.

The company said it was “impossible to predict” when it would reopen.

“The conflict in Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis in Europe has caused unspeakable suffering to innocent people,” chief executive Chris Kempczinski said in a memo to staff that was shared publicly.

“As a system, we join the world in condemning aggression and violence and praying for peace.”

McDonald’s said it would continue to pay its roughly 62,000 staff in Russia. The firm has also been experiencing supply chain issues there.

McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and other companies have been under pressure to act as Russian violence against civilians has escalated.

McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and other companies have been under pressure to act as Russian PC: Getty Images

#BoycottMcDonalds and #BoycottCocaCola were trending on Twitter on Monday and over the weekend respectively.

Dozens of well-known firms including Netflix and Levi’s have already suspended sales or stopped providing services in Russia amid severe sanctions imposed by Western allies.

McDonald’s established its presence in Moscow in 1990, as the Soviet Union was opening its economy, drawing thousands for its burgers and fries.

As tensions with the West increased in 2014 over Russia’s annexation of Crimea, some of its restaurants were shut as part of an investigation into food standards, which many saw as politically motivated.

The closure now likewise carries symbolic weight, and is likely to influence other firms.

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McDonald’s owns a majority of its stores in Russia. Combined with Ukraine, the restaurants account for about 9% of the firm’s revenue and about 2% of global sales.

It has also temporarily closed its 108 restaurants in Ukraine, where it continues to pay salaries and has donated $5m to an employee assistance fund.

McDonald’s said its Ronald McDonald House Charities would remain active in Ukraine and Russia.

Mr Kempczinski said the firm had made the decision over the last week. In addition to staff, the move will affect hundreds of suppliers and the millions of customers McDonald’s serves in Russia each day.

The fast food chain joins a growing list of western brands to cut ties with Russia over its attack on Ukraine.

Coca-Cola on Tuesday said it was suspending operations in Russia, which accounted for roughly 2% of the firm’s operating revenue and income. It also has a roughly 20% ownership stake in a bottling and distribution business in Russia.

Starbucks also announced it would stop all business activities in the country, including shipments of Starbucks products.

The coffee chain’s licensee in the country will temporarily shut more than 100 stores it operates there. The licensee, Kuwait-based Alshaya Group, will continue to pay its roughly 2,000 employees, Starbucks said.