[WATCH] Zelenskyy tells Malta MPs 'the future of Europe will be decided on the battlefield'

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy tells neutral Malta to deny golden passports to Russians and stop Russian oil from using Malta-flagged ships

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivers a speech to Malta’s parliament
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivers a speech to Malta’s parliament

Ukrainian President Volodymyrr Zelenskyy has asked Malta to stop golden passports for Russian nationals and stop Russian oil from using Malta-flagged vessels.

In a short address to the Maltese parliament on Tuesday afternoon, Zelenskyy went as far as correcting Speaker Anglu Farrugia for using the word 'conflict'. "This is a war not a conflict," the Ukrainian president started off as he underscored that the aggressor was Russia.

A war of words: Why Zelenskyy corrected Anġlu Farrugia

Zelenskyy reiterated his call for weapons and military equipment to be made available to his country as it defended itself from Russian aggression, drawing comparison with Malta's defence by British Spitfires during World War II.

Zelenskyy addresses the House
Zelenskyy addresses the House

He delivered a speech to the Maltese parliament at 4pm on Tuesday through a video call, after which the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition also replied back with a short speech.

The Ukrainian President appeared with a green shirt, flanked by two Ukrainian flags.

Speaker Anglu Farrugia gave a brief message to Zelenskyy before the address. “Excellency, as you are surely aware, Malta’s neutrality as entrenched in our constitution does not allow us to contribute militarily. This doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to the humanitarian crisis your country goes to.”

“As a nation, we remain committed to providing humanitarian assistance, on the ground and locally.”

He said that parliamentary diplomacy plays an important role in conflict resolution, providing dialogue while fostering solutions.

He encouraged the Ukrainian and Russian parliaments to engage in dialogue as a solution to the conflict.

Addressing the House, Zelenskyy spoke in his native language, while an interpreter gave an English translation. “We don’t have a conflict, we have a war,” he said of Farrugia’s message. “This is why words are not it these days, but torturing and killing isn’t happening between Russia and Ukraine but on our territory.”

He said that his government is doing all it can to bring peace to Ukraine.

Zelenskyy went on to recall Malta’s experiences in World War II. “You are commemorating the 80th anniversary of the events of the Malta battle in the second world war. It was one of the most decisive. The resilience of your people in some ways defined the future of the Mediterranean.”

Robert Abela and Bernard Grech deliver their reaction
Robert Abela and Bernard Grech deliver their reaction

Beyond that, he said that Malta’s battles in the war even helped dictate the future of Europe.

Zelenskyy described the bombardments in Odessa. “When Europeans commemorate the victims of the second world war, and celebrating Europe Day, 25 missiles were fired by Russia in Odessa, all on civilian targets.”

He turned to Mariupol, where over 90% of all buildings have been destroyed. “They’ve created an artificial famine, blocking access to food and medicine.”

“The city of Mariupol and its defenders continue their resistance. We’re using all diplomatic instruments to rescue them. Russia hasn’t moved on any of the proposed options. We’ve asked partners to provide weapons to unblock Mariupol, but the amount we’d need have not been provided.”

Again, he recalled Malta’s brutal bombings in the 1904s. “Thank God Britain implemented the mission with the Spitfires.”

“We need planes and special artillery. Like then, the future of Europe will be decided on the battlefield.”


Zelenskyy turned to sanctions. “The aggressor has to be hurting and be damaged as much as possible. Russia blocked our ports in the Black Sea - this means the food blockade of agricultural exports, pressure on the global supply market if we can’t export wheat, barley, sunflower oil.

“People in the North Africa and Asia will be lacking in food, and prices will go up. There could be new migration crisis, which I think you can feel already in the neighbourhood.”

He turned to Maltese-flagged vessels, which he said are sometimes used to deliver Russian energy supplies, and warned against issuing golden passports to Russian nationals.

“Accepting and welcoming Russian passports are very dangerous things. It’s dangerous for Europeans and Maltese. It’s time to stop the privileges for Malta offering passports and dual citizenship. Don’t allow to abuse yourself.”

Here, Robert Abela was seen jotting down a quick note.

Nonetheless, Zelenskyy said he was grateful that Malta already took certain decisions to protect European security. “I count on your support. Thank you for the opportunity. Thank you Malta, and Glory to Ukraine.”

Robert Abela

Abela began by thanking Zelenskyy for giving a detailed account of the struggles and hardships Ukrainian nationals are facing. “Too many innocent children, women, men and civilians have lost their lives already.”

“The Maltese government and people are by your side as we continue to respect the territorial sovereignty of your country, as bound by the UN charter. While we are small, bound by our constitution on the principles of neutrality and non-alignment, and geographically away from the war, doesn’t mean we’re blind or deaf to your suffering. We’ll speak where and when it matters, in international fora and in the structures of the EU.”

He said Malta will advocate for a ceasefire and continue to provide assistance as best as he can, such as by providing non-lethal equipment, medicine and services, while contributing to the European peace facility.

He added that Malta will continue to welcome Ukrainian refugees coming to Malta and help them settle into the community. “No matter how far the conflict is, the effects stretch far and wide.”

“We’ll continue to implement agreed EU level actions, put pressure on diplomatic talks to materialise.”

On the issue of golden passports, Abela said he froze applications for Russian and Belarussian citizens, and had also revoked citizenship for a Russian individual who was eventually impacted by the sanctions.

Abela stated that the key to resolving the conflict would be to have Russian troops withdraw from Ukraine, while initiating dialogue and effective peace talks.

“You are not alone. Malta stands with Ukraine.”

Bernard Grech

Grech expressed the party’s solidarity with Ukraine and Zelenskyy. “This war doesn’t concern just Ukraine but the entire free world. If the arbitrary attack of a CoE state is allowed, then arbitrary and illegal actions will go unpunished.”

He said the party takes pride in how Roberta Metsola, as European Parliament president, was the first to visit Ukraine and meet with Zelenskyy to show solidarity on behalf of the European Parliament.

Grech, like Zelenskyy, then turned to the Second World War. “We stood our ground against nazism and fascism with success. This is why the George Cross still embellishes our national flag. It’s true we’re strong. We can’t provide weapons and military equipment, but we have a heart that reaches out to you.”

He said Malta also fought for EU membership, and said he will work to have Ukraine be considered a prospective applicant into the union.

“We cannot belong to a military alliance, but this doesn’t mean we don’t have an opinion to express, and a voice to be heard. Indeed, our membership in the EU has given us huge financial benefits and a large measure of security without belonging to a military alliance.”

He said Ukraine’s identity is European. “When Gorg Borg Olivier, soon after achieving independence in 1964, led our country to the Council of Europe, said this is us returning home after a long absence.”

“May you soon join the EU. When that happens, Ukraine will return home after a long absence. During that absence, you will be supported by friends and allies. Please, Mr President, consider us one of your friends and allies.”