Papa John’s has cut ties with its corporate operations in Russia as other Western chains have done, but its restaurants remain open in the country. This has sparked a backlash that includes calls for a boycott in the United States.

The saga started on Monday after an interview was published with Christopher Wynne, the CEO of PJ Western which is responsible for Papa John’s franchise agreement in Russia and oversees 190 restaurants. In his remarks, Wynne ruled out closing any of these locations and said that there were plans in place to increase the number by as many as 40 new restaurants in Russia.

Asked about whether the company would exit Russia the way other chains like McDonald’s have, Wynne said there were no such plans.

“The best thing I can do as an individual is show compassion for the people, my employees, franchisees and customers without judging them because of the politicians in power,” Wynne told the New York Times.

“The vast majority of Russian people are very clear headed and understand the dark gravity of the situation they’re in,” he added. “And, at the end of the day, they appreciate a good pizza.”

Wynne’s remarks sparked an online outcry against Papa John’s for not acting to close the restaurants.

Michael McFaul, a former U.S ambassador to Russia under President Barack Obama, said that his family would no longer buy from the chain. In a tweet, he urged the chain to follow in the footsteps of other international chains and leave Russia.

“My family are huge fans of Papa John's. But we are taking a break for now. It is immoral to be making money in Putin's Russia as he slaughters innocent children in Ukraine. Do Better Papa John,” McFaul wrote on Twitter.

Other users called for patrons to begin boycotting Papa John’s until it closed down operations in Russia.

"If you're looking for a business to boycott over the Ukraine invasion, #PapaJohns is a great place to start.....#ChristopherWynne," wrote one user.

Wynne’s comments were not the only ones to draw ire. Several Twitter users circulated a video of Papa John’s founder and former CEO John Schnatter claiming that President Joe Biden invented the war as a distraction to problems at home.

"What a great smokescreen, what a great distraction from all the real issues here affecting Americans,” Schnatter said on Feb. 25 on the sidelines of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) a day after Russia attacked Ukraine.

Schnatter, a donor to the Republican Party and a supporter of former President Donald Trump, resigned from the company he founded in 2018 after a recording of him using a racial slur during a conference call was leaked.

Despite no longer running the company, several users drew on Schnatter’s support for Trump and conservative politics to draw attention to Papa’s John’s continued presence in Russia.

“Papa John's keeps giving us all great reasons to actively avoid their product regardless of whether Papa John Schnatter is involved or not,” wrote a user.

Another said: “@PapaJohns is a disgusting company. They attacked President Obama and supported the tyrant, sexist, narcissistic liar, Trump. Now they are standing with Russia against Democracy & freedom. Nobody should ever eat @PapaJohns pizza. It’s not even good pizza."