McDonald’s restaurants reopened across Moscow on Sunday, minus the name and American ownership but packing the same menu that drew big crowds to 850 outlets across Russia.
“I’m excited to introduce our new name, Vkusno & tochka,” general director of the fast food chain Oleg Paroev told reporters hours before the first store reopened in Moscow’s Puskhin Square. The name translates to “Tasty and That’s It” or “Tasty, Period.”
McDonald’s suspended operations at all 850 of its eateries in Russia on March 14, less than three weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine. Two months later McDonald’s announced it was withdrawing from Russia, 32 years after opening its first location in Pushkin Square. McDonald’s sold the business to Russian businessman Alexander Govor.
The chain kept the previous workers and menu but changed the names. Fifteen restaurants reopened in Moscow and about 200 will be open by month’s end, Govor said.
“This is a historic place – the flagship of McDonald’s,” Govor told reporters. “I’m sure it will be the flagship for us.”
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► Almost 300 Ukrainian children have died and 508 have been injured by Russian missiles and mortars targeting cities, Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office says. Most victims among children are from the Donetsk region of the Donbas.
►A Ukrainian counteroffensive pushed Russians out of parts of the southern Kherson region they took early in the war, according to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Moscow has installed local authorities in Kherson and other occupied coastal areas, offering residents Russian passports and introducing a Russian school curriculum.
►Sri Lanka may be compelled to buy more oil from Russia as the island nation of 22 million searches for fuel amid an economic crisis, newly appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.
►Three-time WNBA champion Penny Taylor called for the release of her former Phoenix Mercury teammate Brittney Griner from Russian captivity during her induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
►Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe said Beijing continues to support peace talks between Russia and Ukraine and hopes the US and its NATO allies have discussions with Russia “to create the conditions for an early cease-fire.”
The Russians have been leaning on their superiority in troops and artillery in a determined effort to capture the industrial Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, making considerable headway, but will probably need to replenish their forces, according to a British intelligence assessment.
“Russia will likely have to rely on new recruits or mobilized reservists to deploy these units to Ukraine,”‘ said Sunday’s assessmenttweeted out before the ministry posted a map of Ukraine highlighting the territory controlled by Russia in the east and south.
It’s a large chunk, including most of the Donbas, where the sides continue to wage a ferocious battle for the crucial city of Sievierodonetsk in the Luhansk province.
Regional governor Serhiy Haidai said Sunday the Russians aim to encircle Sievierodonetsk, destroying bridges that connect to the city center. “The Russians are making every effort to cut off Sievierodonetsk,” he said. “The next two or three days will be significant.”
British and Ukrainian officials have warned the Russians are using imprecise weapons that can cause mass consequences as they try to gain terrain in a region that could provide them a land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula, which they illegally annexed in 2014.
Zelenskyy lauds troops for defying predictions of Russian onslaught
Ukrainian forces are defying expectations by preventing Russian troops from overrunning eastern Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address.
“Do you remember how Russia hoped to capture the entire Donbas in early May? It is already the 108th day of the war, it is already June. Donbas is holding on,” Zelenskyy said.
Ukrainian and Russian authorities said Sievierodonetsk, an eastern city with a prewar population of 100,000, remained contested, although regional governor Serhiy Haidai called the situation there “extremely difficult.” The city and Lysychansk are the last major areas of the Donbas’ Luhansk province not under the control of the pro-Russia rebels.
Zelenskyy urged the world to hold Russia accountable for the deaths and destruction it has brought to his country. And he estimated that about 32,000 Russians have died.
“For what? What did it give you, Russia?” Zelenskyy said. “No one can say now how long this burning of souls by Russia will last. But we must do everything to make the occupiers regret that they have done all this.”
Three-and-a-half months into the Russian invasion of its neighbour, the Ukrainians’ defense of Kyiv – forcing the Kremlin to abandon its plans to capture the capital city – remains a moment in the war.
One of the heroes of that stand turns out to be a teenage boy armed with nothing more than a small drone.
Andriy Pokrasa, 15, and his dad, Stanislav, are being hailed in Ukraine for their volunteer drone reconnaissance work in the early days of the conflict, when Russian troops barreling in from the north made an ultimately failed attempt to take Kyiv and bring the country to her knees.
The father-and-son team spent the first week of the war taking aerial photos of the approaching Russian military and pinpointing the coordinates. They provided the information to Ukrainian forces, which rained shells down on the invaders, helping to fend them off.
Stanislav Pokrasa, 41, told the Associated Press he didn’t hesitate to leave the piloting to the boy. “I can operate the drone, but my son does it much better,” he said. “We immediately decided he would do it.”
Andriy Pokrasa described the experience as frightening but satisfying for the sense of helping Ukraine repel the unprovoked Russian assault. “I was happy that we destroyed someone,” he said. “I was happy that I contributed, that I was able to do something, not just sitting and waiting.”
Contributing: The Associated Press