The Parliament of Ukraine has voted today to approve the appointment of Rustem Umerov as the country's new Minister of Defense.
Rustem Umerov is a leading member of the Crimean Tatar community, who has represented his country in key negotiations with Russia.
But he also has a special connection with Albania and is fearlessly described as a friend of the Albanians.
In July 2022, he visited Albania, where he held an informal meeting with Prime Minister Edi Rama and an official meeting with Taulant Balla, at that time chairman of the socialist parliamentary group and several other deputies.
Prime Minister Edi Rama asked Umerov for Ukraine to recognize Kosovo. This proposal is expected to be presented by Rama to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the next meeting.
Rustem Umerov, 41 years old, a Muslim, was also part of the negotiations for the housing of Afghans in Albania. Umerov also has the close confidence of the White House.
Who is the new Ukrainian Defense Minister?
Umerov was born in Soviet Uzbekistan, where his family was exiled under Stalin, and returned to Crimea, Ukraine, as a child when Tatars were allowed to return in the 1980s and 1990s.
This 41-year-old Muslim started his telecommunications business in 2004 and was elected to parliament in 2019.
There, he served as co-chair of the Crimea Platform, an international diplomatic effort aimed at reversing Russia's 2014 annexation of the peninsula.
For years, he worked as an adviser to the leader of the Crimean Tatars, Mustafa Dzhemilev.
He was part of the Ukrainian delegation to the negotiations with Russia in the first weeks of the war and took part in negotiations to create an export corridor for Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.
In September last year, he was appointed head of the State Property Fund, a particularly difficult role in Ukraine, where the privatization process has been plagued by corruption.