In the aftermath of Russia's swift annexation of Crimea, McDonald's will be shutting down its restaurants in the region. The closures mean Crimeans will no longer have access to their favorite McDonald's meals, and it also means sudden unemployment for many workers.
McDonald's cited "manufacturing reasons" and "operational reasons beyond our control" for suspending activity at its Crimean locations. This comes as no surprise. — the U.S. and much of the West, along with Ukraine, refuse to acknowledge Putin's bold and belligerent move.
The fast food giant will be extending an arm to the many who effectively lost their jobs. The company is offering jobs to its workers from Crimea at its locations in Ukraine, with relocation fees. The workers who cannot make the move, or choose not to, will get a severance package. These moves signal that the McDonald's closures are permanent.
"We understand and respect each employee's decision. If they do not wish to move to another city in Ukraine we will, in accordance with Ukrainian law, offer options to end their employment with a redundancy payment," McDonald's said in a statement.
McDonald's is one of a growing number of businesses forced to stop operating in the region. Geneva-based Deutsche Post has stopped accepting Crimea-bound letters. In addition, Crimea will no longer have access to methadone, an opioid used to treat heroin addicts. The 800 or so recovering drug users in the region will no longer receive these medical supplies, and many worry about increasing drug use and HIV rates.
"It is happening at such a pace that it's going to be a massacre here," one methadone user in in Sevastopol told the Associated Press.
Crimea will likely see many more stark economic changes as it shifts from Ukrainian to Russian rule. For now, McDonald's, regular postal-service and access to rehabilitating drugs have been the first major changes.