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YEKATERINBURG, May 13. /TASS/. US fast-food giant McDonald’s said on Wednesday that while it ruled out imminent operations on Russia’s Black Sea Crimea peninsula, future operations could be expected there.
"Crimea is still new territory for us but we will get there some day," promised Alexey Semyonov, the chain's Russia managing director, telling TASS of potential problems that might arise in starting operations at present.
"At a certain point, we will appear there. But it is difficult to set a definite date now. This is a very big country and at present we have plans for other regions that should be implemented," Semyonov said.
"After that, we will look at the entire geography and decide where it will be better and how we will develop further," he said, adding that this could take up to three years.
The chief executive was looking to times ahead in the wake of Tuesday's opening of its 500th Russian outlet - at Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city, in the Urals. Plans were also unveiled to open 50 new restaurants across Russia in 2015.
McDonald’s, operating in Russia for 25 years, suffered a number of setbacks last year amid tension between Moscow and Washington over the crisis in Ukraine.
The chain’s Ukrainian office closed its three outlets in Crimea early in April 2014 after the Black Sea peninsula re-joined Russia following a referendum.
In August, Russia's food safety watchdog launched a wave of checks which led to temporary closures of several restaurants of the chain across the country, including the famous location on Pushkin Square that brought McDonald's to Russia just before the fall of the Soviet Union.
McDonald's rates the country one of its top seven major markets outside the United States and Canada, according to its 2013 annual report. The company employs nearly 37,000 people in Russia, serving more than a million customers a day.