Burger King invades Crimea to supplant exiting McDonald’s


People outside a closed McDonald’s restaurant in the Crimean city Simferopol on April 4. McDonald’s has suspended work at its restaurants in Crimea for “manufacturing reasons.” (Reuters)
A man and a little girl look at a closed McDonald's in the Crimean capital Simferopol on April 4, 2014. US fast food giant McDonald's said today it was temporarily shutting its three stores in Crimea following the Ukrainian peninsula's annexation by Russia. AFP PHOTO/ YURIY LASHOVYURIY LASHOV/AFP/Getty Images
A man and a little girl, locked out of the Golden Arches. (AFP Photo)

 

In this terrain of political realism and Machiavellian statecraft, no opportunity that falls through the cracks of war shall go missed. Vladimir Putin and his Russian oligarchs know this.

And so does Burger King.

On Friday of last week, McDonald’s became the second international company to pull out of Crimea after citing “manufacturing reasons independent of McDonald’s.”

Now, less than a week later, Burger King has announced it will soon invade Crimea to fill the burger void. “We are planning to open in Crimea, but I cannot say when exactly it will happen or how many outlets the company will have,” Burger King Russia CEO Dmitry Medovy told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

In Russia, Burger King and McDonalds vie for supremacy. McDonald’s has been in the country since 1990.

According to the Moscow Times, Burger King has been in the country only since 2010, when its first spot opened in a Moscow shopping mall. In the last few years, it has surged to the No. 2 spot behind McDonald’s. Today, Burger King has 200 shops in Russia.

McDonald’s denies that politics precipitated its withdrawal, but the Moscow Times says it “hinted” at “logistical difficulties” associated with sanctions against Russia over its takeover of Crimea last month.

“Like many other multi-national companies, McDonald’s is currently evaluating potential business and regulatory implications which may result from the evolving situation in Crimea,” the company said in a statement, according to Reuters news agency. “Due to the suspension of necessary financial and banking services, we have no option but to close our three restaurants in Crimea.”

Its employees were told to look for jobs at its other restaurants in Ukraine. But only on the condition they were willing to accept the same position and salary.

Just because your territory was absorbed into another country doesn’t mean you deserve a raise.

 

Terrence McCoy is a foreign affairs writer at the Washington Post. He served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Cambodia and studied international politics at Columbia University. Follow him on Twitter here.
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