KYIV, Ukraine

The head of the Crimean Tatar National Assembly on Thursday thanked Turkey’s president for a housing project in Ukraine for displaced Crimean Tatars.

In a letter, Refat Chubarov thanked Recep Tayyip Erdogan for working to protect the rights of Crimean Tatar Turks as well as Turkey’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty.

The assembly praised Turkey’s efforts to raise the living standards of Crimean Tatar Turks forced to migrate from Crimea since Russia illegally annexed the peninsula in 2014.

While Turkey building 500 housing units will do much to alleviate the Tatars’ housing woes, the letter asked for the possibility of 500 additional units to be evaluated.

During Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s visit to Turkey last Saturday, the two countries signed an agreement for Turkish government housing agency TOKI to build 500 housing units for Crimean Tatar Turks in Ukraine.

Crimea’s ethnic Tatars have faced persecution since Russia’s 2014 takeover of the peninsula, a situation Turkey has decried.

Turkey and the US, as well as the UN General Assembly, view the annexation as illegal.

Chubarov was banned from entering the peninsula after the annexation, and the Tatar assembly was branded an “extremist organization,” with its activities banned.

Due to pressure from the Russian administration, thousands of Crimean Tatars had to leave the peninsula.

Pro-Russian separatists also claim control over eastern Ukraine, including the Donbass region, which they have illegally controlled for seven years.

In recent weeks Russia has reportedly amassed its forces near the east, with the NATO chief urging Russia to “end this military build-up in and around Ukraine, stop its provocations and de-escalate immediately.”

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