Turkey on Saturday condemned the conviction of seven Crimean Tatars by a Russian court earlier this week.

The country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “It is regrettable to suppress the Tatar Turkish community, which is the essential element of the Crimean Peninsula, by such methods.”

The statement added that it will continue to stand with the Crimean Tatars, who peacefully defend their rights and interests and strive to make their voices heard through democratic methods.

On Wednesday, a military court in Rostov-on-Don, southern Russia, sentenced the Crimean Tatars to prison from 13 to 19 years over “terror” charges.

The EU called on Russia to quash this ruling and to release all illegally detained Ukrainians without delay.

Russian forces entered the Crimean Peninsula in February 2014, with Russian President Vladimir Putin formally dividing the region into two separate federal subjects of the Russian Federation the following month.

Since then, Crimean Tatars have continued their struggle for Ukraine’s territorial integrity against Russian occupation.

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.

Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.