Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine unleashed untold human misery as well as catastrophic economic damage.
In the first weeks after Russia invaded its European neighbor on February 24, 2022, millions of refugees surged out of the country. In those initial days, many western companies halted operations as well, unsure of the war's outcome.
But while hundreds of western companies abandoned Russia altogether, many put their Ukrainian operations on hold.
Now, one of the biggest players is moving to restart operations in Ukraine, as the initial Russian invasion has been beaten back, many refugees have returned, and as Kyiv begins to gain the initiative on the battlefield.
The big brand and franchise McDonald's (MCD) had 109 restaurants in Ukraine at the start of the war, and also closed them quickly in March following Russia's invasion. The company has continued to pay the salaries of more than 10,000 employees in Ukraine during the closures.
McDonald's Returns to Ukraine
McDonald's announced on August 11, 2022 that it intends to start to reopen its restaurants in Ukraine.
Paul Promroy, McDonald's Head of International Operated Markets, came to the decision after: "extensive consultation and discussion with Ukrainian officials, suppliers, and security specialists, and in consideration of our employees' request to return to work." The company will "institute a phased plan to reopen some restaurants in Kyiv and western Ukraine, where other businesses have safely reopened," Promroy said in a published statement.
McDonald's is not the only fast food chain to do this. KFC and and Pizza Hut, which are owned by Yum! Brand Inc (YUM) , announced at the beginning of August that almost all of their stores in Ukraine have reopened.
McDonald's Sells Russian Stores
McDonald's planned reopening stands in contrast with Russia. McDonald's closed its stores in Russia in March. In May, as international sanctions on Russia ratcheted up, McDonald's sold almost all of its 850 stores in Russia to local licensees.
"That's why in May, we announced that we would exit the market and sell our restaurants to a Russian buyer to be operated under a different identity. While the Golden Arches no longer shine in Russia, we are continuing to support our people in Ukraine and remain ever hopeful for a resolution of this conflict," Chris Kempczinski said during his company's second-quarter earnings call.