McDonald's Is Finally Returning To This Country

If you were to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to characterize the relationship between his country and Ukraine, there's a decent chance he'd say something along the lines of what he said in July 2021: "Russians and Ukrainians are one people, a single whole" (via National Geographic). Apparently, this was not so much a show of solidarity by Russia with the neighboring state but a claim of ownership with regard to Ukraine. Indeed, as the London School of Economics and Political Science stated in a 2020 essay, "the notion that Ukraine is not a country, but a historical part of Russia, appears to be deeply ingrained in the minds of Russian leadership."

In hindsight, Putin's words read almost like a spoiler alert of what was to come on February 24, when Russian began its currently ongoing military campaign against Ukraine, per Reuters. Soon after, various nations issued political sanctions against Russia, and numerous American businesses shuttered their Russian businesses in protest, at least temporarily. McDonald's, however, turned its temporary closure into a long-term divestiture in May, per CNBC.

What didn't get nearly as much attention at the time, however, was that the ongoing war had forced McDonald's to also close its Ukraine locations. That is, until now (via The New York Times).

What McDonald's return to Ukraine may suggest

After Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, businesses like McDonald's divested from Russia in response to the country's actions, but were also forced to change the way they do business in Ukraine (per The New York Times). The fast-food company closed 109 restaurants in Ukraine, as workers fled the country and joined the military to fight against Russia. But now, the company believes some amount of normalcy, while a small one, may be on the horizon in parts of the country.

The fast-food company said its planned return to Ukraine is due to employees' "strong desire to return to work" where safe to do so, despite the war (via NYT). "In recent months, the belief that this would support a small but important sense of normalcy has grown stronger," says Paul Pomroy, McDonald's corporate senior vice president of international operated markets (via Axios).

While McDonald's phased reopening in Ukraine takes place, the company's former businesses in Russia now exist under a new brand with the same flavors: Tasty and That's It. But while the Russian businesses continue to serve the same style of McDonald's menu items, the quality has reportedly diminished.