Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, Burger King has 800 stores in Russia

The operator of Burger King stores in Russia has refused to close them despite demands to suspend trading, according to the owner.

The local partner of Restaurant Brands, Alexander Kolobov, was contacted by the company to shut down the shops.

It said complicated contracts with overseas partners mean it is unable to walk away from the deals.

Western firms have stopped doing business in Russia.

Burger King and Marks and Spencer are two retailers that have been unable to do so because their stores are run by franchise partners.

In a letter to staff, David Shear, president of Restaurant Brands International, said that they contacted the main operator of the business and demanded the suspension of Burger King restaurant operations in Russia.

He has refused to do so.

Making any changes to its local Burger King business would require the support of Russian authorities on the ground, and we know that won't happen anytime soon.

10 years ago, Burger King entered the Russian market. It trades there through a joint venture partnership with Mr. Kolobov, who is the main day-to-day operator of the business, as well as with Russia's VTB Capital and a Ukrainian investment firm.

The US, UK, and other European countries have imposed sanctions on Russia's second largest financial institution, VTB Bank.

Mr Shear said that Restaurant Brands has a minority stake in the Russian joint venture.

He said that it would take some time to do so based on the terms of the existing joint venture agreement.

The supply chain, operations and marketing for Russia have stopped being supported by Restaurant Brands. New pitches for investment and expansion in Russia will be rejected.

Western companies are under pressure to leave Russia. M&S is still open in Russia according to a group of four Ukrainian MPs.