May 18, 2022 · less than 3 min read
The arrival of the golden arches was the symbol of the end of the Cold War. Now, Russia is getting the cold shoulder.
The end of an era
McDonald’s is a quintessentially American business, but when it landed in Russia in the 1990s, it really felt like things were changing for the better. Over the years though, the golden arches have witnessed the country slide from democratic hopefuls to oligarchic bandits. Now, the firm is closing its doors permanently and exiting the country.
It’s not so much about McDonald’s itself, so much as what it symbolizes. Grabbing a McDonald’s is akin to liberation, independence, and indulgence – things that obviously make America great, and seeing the rest of the world feast itself on fries and burgers is a sign of true global freedom. Without it, we’re left to wonder just how the Russians will cope.
The rising tide
McDonald’s was one of the hundreds of American firms to pause operations in Russia after Putin ordered the ill-fated invasion of Ukraine. The door to reconciliation is still there for some companies, which have chosen to freeze rather than outright sell their Russian assets. But it’s beginning to edge closer to a mass walkout – with McD’s leading the line.
French car producer Renault has also decided to sell up in Russia – albeit with a buyback option. So, after first freezing operations, patience is wearing thin with Putin’s power grab.
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