By Chris Scicluna
VALLETTA (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged Malta on Tuesday to stop Russians from abusing passports handed out as part of a lucrative citizenship scheme, and to prevent its ships from transporting Russian oil.
In his latest video address to a Western parliament, Zelenskiy likened Ukraine's fight with Russia to Malta's own dogged defence against Nazi Germany in World War Two.
"The resilience and resistance of Malta between 1940 and 1942 helped define the future of Europe in the same way as the resilience and strength of our people will decide whether freedom will win again in combating tyranny," Zelenskiy said.
He urged the European Union's smallest member state to play its part, calling on the government to halt all Russian banking transactions and prevent Russians from hiding under 'golden passport' schemes or dual citizenship.
"Please do not let yourself be abused, check which Russians are trying to hide using your passports," he said.
Malta halted its controversial sale of passports to Russian applicants a week after the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, and Prime Minister Robert Abela told Zelenskiy on Tuesday that the passport of a Russian targeted by EU sanctions had been revoked.
Zelenskiy also stressed the need for an effective embargo on Russian oil, while acknowledging this was "sensitive" for Malta.
Malta has the EU's largest ship registry and has been seeking a compromise with Brussels on proposals to ban the transportation of Russian oil on EU-flagged or controlled ships.
Zelenskiy reiterated his plea for Western nations to send weapons, comparing Ukraine's need to that of Malta in World War Two, when the small Mediterranean island was only able to fight off German and Italian air attacks after it received British fighter planes transported by a U.S. aircraft carrier.
"We need planes, helicopters, artillery and other weapons, because now, like 80 years ago, the future of Europe is decided on the battlefield," he said.
(Editing by Crispian Balmer and Gareth Jones)