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Iconic U.S. brands Coca-Cola, Pepsi and McDonald’s suspend business in Russia

An employee of Burger King restaurant, prepares an order with Coca-Cola in Moscow, Russia January 21, 2010.

Denis Sinyakov | Reuters

PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Starbucks said Tuesday they are suspending business in Russia after that country’s invasion of Ukraine, a symbolic step-back by four iconic US brands.

Pepsi’s cola has been sold in Russia for more than six decades, while McDonald’s opened its restaurant in the Soviet Union in Moscow just months before the state collapsed. In recent days, all four companies have drawn criticism for continuing to operate in Russia while other US companies were backing out of the country or at least pausing sales.

“Our hearts are with the people who are enduring unconscionable effects from these tragic events in Ukraine,” Coke said in a brief statement Tuesday afternoon. “We will continue to monitor and assess the situation as circumstances evolve.”

Russia represents one of the few regions worldwide where Coke’s rival PepsiCo has a larger presence. In a regulatory filing, Coke said its business in Ukraine and Russia contributed about 1% to 2% of its consolidated net operating revenue and operating income in 2021.

Pepsi, on the other hand, is not halting all of its Russian business. The company will keep selling some essential products, like baby formula, milk and baby food, in Russia.

“As a food and beverage company, now more than ever we must stay true to the humanitarian aspect of our business,” PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta wrote in a memo to employees viewed by CNBC.

However, sales of its Pepsi-Cola, 7Up and Mirinda brands will be suspended, along with capital investments and all advertising and promotional activities in Russia.

Both McDonald’s and Starbucks announced that their Russian restaurants would temporarily close. Of the two restaurant companies, McDonald’s has a larger presence in the country and receives a higher percentage of its global revenue from those sales.

Starbucks went further than McDonald’s, saying all Russian business activity is suspended, including shipment of its products.

Since the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014, many US companies have looked to reduce their exposure in both Russia and Ukraine.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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