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Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Starbucks follow McDonald's in pausing business in Russia

The companies had been under pressure to take a stronger stance on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and McDonald's are the latest big international companies pausing business in Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. 

McDonald’s was the first to announce its plans Monday, saying it is temporarily closing all of its 850 restaurants in Russia but will keep paying its 62,000 employees there. Starbucks and Coca-Cola made similar announcements soon after. 

"The Coca-Cola Company announced today that it is suspending its business in Russia," reads a short update on Coca-Cola's website. "Our hearts are with the people who are enduring unconscionable effects from these tragic events in Ukraine." 

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson wrote that the coffee giant decided to "suspend all business activity in Russia, including shipment of all Starbucks products."

PepsiCo made a similar announcement Tuesday afternoon. The company said it is suspending sales of Pepsi-Cola and its global beverage brands in Russia. It also plans to suspend capital investments, advertising and promotional activities in Russia over the "horrific events occurring in Ukraine".

However, PepsiCo said it will continue sales including "daily essentials such as milk and other dairy offerings, baby formula and baby food." 

The companies had been under pressure to take a stronger stance on Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Calls to boycott McDonald's, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo trended on Twitter over the weekend, including by actor Sean Penn. Penn called boycotting the chains until they suspend business in Russia "a very safe & simple way to stand with Ukraine."

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In an open letter to employees, McDonald’s President and CEO Chris Kempckinski said closing the chain's 850 stores is the right thing to do because McDonald's can't ignore the “needless human suffering in Ukraine.” 

Many large fast food chains in Russia are owned by franchisees, but McDonald's owns 84% of its Russian restaurants. In a recent financial filing, the company said Russia and Ukraine contributed 9% of the company's revenue last year. 

Kempczinski said it is "impossible to predict" when McDonald's may reopen the restaurants.

“The situation is extraordinarily challenging for a global brand like ours, and there are many considerations,” he wrote. "McDonald’s works with hundreds of Russian suppliers, for example, and serves millions of customers each day."

McDonald's had already temporarily closed its more than 100 locations in Ukraine. Kempczinski said the company is also still paying those employees their salaries and has donated $5 million to its employee assistance fund. The Ronald McDonald House Charities in Russia and Ukraine will also continue "full operations."

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With only 130 stores in Russia and none in Ukraine, Starbucks' presence in the area is much smaller than that of McDonald's. Also unlike McDonald's, its Russian stores are all licensed -- so not owned and operated by Starbucks. 

CEO Kevin Johnson announced the move in a Tuesday open letter to employees. He said Starbucks' licensed partner in Russia "agreed to immediately pause store operations and will provide support to the nearly 2,000 partners in Russia who depend on Starbucks for their livelihood."

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As of Tuesday afternoon, the beverage giant did not give further details on its plans to suspend business in Russia. In its short statement, Coca-Cola said it will "continue to monitor and assess the situation as circumstances evolve."


PepsiCo announced plans to suspend sales of Pepsi-Cola and its "global beverage brands in Russia, including 7Up and Mirinda." However, it said it has a humanitarian "responsibility" to keep offering other products in Russia, including milk, other dairy drinks, baby formula and baby food.

"By continuing to operate, we will also continue to support the livelihoods of our 20,000 Russian associates and the 40,000 Russian agricultural workers in our supply chain as they face significant challenges and uncertainty ahead," the company's statement read.

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