No More Happy Meals for Russia

McDonalds has announced that it will be closing all of its locations within Russia following President Vladamir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

McDonalds had previously closed 800 restaurants in the country since the war broke out last March, but are now going through with a complete shutdown of their operations in Russia, which will cost the company $1.2 to $1.4 billion and roughly 9% of global revenue. This decision to “de-arch” Russia comes from what McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski calls a breach of the company’s “commitment to our global community” and values.

McDonalds isn’t the only western corporation to remove themselves from Putin’s Russia with the Starbucks and Coca-Cola company halting sales. However, McDonalds is the biggest representation of what this new era of Russia will be like moving into the next decade.

While corporate boycotts like these may not seem to pack as big a punch at first glance, there is a significant cultural soft power that companies like McDonalds possess when in other countries. When the fast food chain first went abroad in the 1990s, it was a signal for a new era of globalism to take hold of the world after decades of the Cold War. 

The presence of such a pervasive American product within Russia was a symbol of President Mikhaevl Gorbachev’s “Glasnost” policy realized, the opening of a relationship between the Russian people and the West, and the soon after collapse of the Soviet Union. 

Now, McDonald’s withdrawal is a symbol of Putin’s increasing isolation of Russia from the rest of the world. It is thus important to reflect on how war is conducted in more ways than through force and that we should consider the impact our cultural soft power has on other states or in humanitarian matters. 

Russia’s new era is one that will continue to see a removal form the rest of the world should this war continue; and while McDonalds’s arrival in 1990 signaled an opening up to the world, their departure now sends a clear message from the west to Putin– you are on your own now.

This blog post is part of the CIMA Law Group blog. If you are located in Arizona and are seeking legal services, CIMA Law Group specializes in Immigration Law, Criminal Defense, Personal Injury, and Government Relations.

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