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Burger King Invades Crimea After McDonald's Exit

The disappearance of the Golden Arches in the peninsula may be a reaction to the worsening economic situation in the region.

by Olivia Becker
Apr 10 2014, 3:15pm

Image via Reuters

The deepening crisis between Russia and Ukraine that has been playing out over the past several months now has a new proxy war, and this time it’s being fought over burgers and fries.

Last Friday, McDonald’s announced they were pulling out of their Sevastopol, Simferopol, and Yalta locations in the Crimean peninsula, citing unspecified “manufacturing issues.”

Less than a week later, Burger King announced they would be setting up their first ever location in Crimea, presumably to fill the burger void left by McDonald’s. Or maybe just to defend Burger King fans from fascist pro-McDonald’s forces.

“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 Russian news agency Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

Watch all of VICE News' dispatches, Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine here.

Burger King has a solid presence in Russia already, with about 200 restaurants in the country. This will be the first one in Crimea.

McDonald’s is also well established in Russia, with over 400 locations across the country. The first McDonald’s restaurants started popping up in the country in the 1990s, soon after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Although the closure of McDonald’s in Crimea comes in the midst of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, and just several weeks after Russia annexed the peninsula, McDonald’s officials deny that the announcement has anything to do with politics.

In a statement to Reuters, McDonald’s said, "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."

Many speculate, however, that McDonald’s exit is a reaction to the worsening economic situation in the region resulting from the increased economic pressure imposed on Russia by the US and the West. Targeted sanctions have disrupted Russian markets, and as a result many private businesses are becoming increasingly wary of the stability of their investments.

Burger King, apparently, is apparently willing to take the risk.

Protesters in Ukraine are demanding a referendum that is similar to what led to the annexation of Crimea by Russia last month. See photos here.

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @obecker928