(QHA) -

Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Jemilev on Thursday urged the West to maintain strong sanctions against Russia over taking Crimea from Ukraine to pressure it “to leave without using military force”

Jemilev was speaking during a conference as Members of UN Security Council has met with Ukrainian MPs and Jemilev in New York to discuss situation of Crimean Tatars.

"Violations of human rights are flagrant and they have overpowered those taking place during the Soviet era,"- Jemilev told reporters after the briefing.

"Crimea that used to be a tourist area is being turned into a military base... and the most alarming is that Crimea is likely to return into a nuclear weapons base, –he added. There are no freedoms and rights in Crimea right now... those who stand up for their beliefs, and first of all for their willingness to go back to become part of Ukraine, are being repressed".

Jemilev was invited to the UN by Lithuania, a member of the UN Security Council, to attend an informal closed meeting on Crimea's human rights situation.

The meeting was boycotted by Russia, which considers the Crimea an integral part of its territory.

Besides Russia, two other members of the Security Council -- China and Venezuela -- did not send a representative to the meeting.

QHA