McDonald's Pulls Out Of Crimea And Offers Staff Transfers To Ukraine As Hague Says No Let-Up In Pressure On Russia

SIMFEROPOL, Crimea -- McDonald's has closed down its franchises in Crimea, it was reported today. The U.S. fast-food giant has suspended work for ‘manufacturing reasons' in Simferopol, Sevastopol and Yalta.

A man signals that the McDonald's restaurant in Simferopol is closed after McDonald's suspend all work on the Crimean peninsula for 'manufacturing reasons'.

McDonald’s is the second international company to cease operations in Crimea this week, following the peninsula’s hasty annexation by Russia last month.

The Crimean instability, and the recent invalidation of the referendum to reunite with Russia by the United Nation, means as it is unclear how the change may impact business in the Black Sea region.

McDonald's, which operates three restaurants in Crimea, offered to help relocate staff to Ukraine, even offering three months housing paid for by the company. 

This signals the multi-national fast-food chain does not expect its Crimean business to reopen in the near future.

‘The company has provided an opportunity to all employees ... to transfer to any other McDonald's restaurants in Ukraine preserving their positions, salaries and fees and paying to relocate employees and their families,’ it said in a statement.

The closures follow Geneva-based Universal Postal Deutsche Post's announcement that it was no longer accepting letters bound for Crimea as delivery to the region was no longer guaranteed.

The closures led to protests from Russian politicians with Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Liberal and Democratic Party of Russia, asking that all McDonald's restaurants across Russia be closed.

"McDonald's has closed its restaurants in the Crimea -- this is very good. Now it needs to close all restaurants in Russia. I ordered the teams of municipal organizations of LDPR to put pickets in front of all McDonald's restaurants in Moscow and across the country. They should get out of the country ... as soon as possible," Zhirinovsky told reporters on Friday.

Zhirinovsky proceeded to spew his anger at Pepsi as well, the reasons for which are unknown.

"We will close them across the country and then proceed to Pepsi," he said.

The news of the business exodus comes as British Foreign Secretary William Hague urged the EU to press on with tough sanctions against Russia over the developments in Crimea.

Ahead of a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Athens, today, he said as Russian forces still remain on Ukraine's eastern border, the EU cannot be fooled to think the issue has been solved.

‘We haven't seen real de-escalation by Russia and therefore Europe must not relax in preparing a third tier of sanctions and making sure we continue to have a strong and united response,’ he said.

Hague was referring to tough trade and economic measures that the EU has threatened to take against Russia if it moves beyond Crimea into southern and eastern Ukraine.

At the meeting in the Greek capital, Hague and his EU counterparts will discuss new ways the European Union can help Ukraine overcome its conflict with Russia, and discuss how the bloc can approach its neighbours to the east and south more effectively.

They are not expected to make any decisions but could look at possible new sanctions against Russia and how the EU can help Kiev benefit from the EU's 11-billion-euro ($15 billion) aid package announced in recent weeks.

Hague said it was too early for the EU's 28 governments to bolster sanctions against Moscow for now.

‘But they have to be ready because the situation remains very dangerous,’ he said.

Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea has greatly strained its relations with Europe and is raising questions about the bloc's long-term policy towards Moscow and as well as about the EU's ability to support stability in the region.

Source: DailyMail and UPI