Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban hold a joint press conference following their talks in Budapest, Hungary, on Oct. 30, 2019.Zoltan Mathe

Authorities in Hungary would not arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin if he were to enter the country despite him being the subject of an international warrant for alleged war crimes in Ukraine, a Hungarian official said Thursday.

Gergely Gulyas, chief of staff to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, said during a news conference in Budapest that arresting Putin would contravene Hungarian law because the country has not promulgated the statute of the International Criminal Court into its legal system.

The court, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands, last week issued an arrest warrant for Putin that accused him of personal responsibility for the abductions of children from Ukraine.

Gulyas said the statute of the ICC, of which Hungary is a member state, was in conflict with Hungary’s Constitution, and that arresting Putin would therefore violate Hungarian law. Orban’s government has not yet taken a position on the warrant, but Gulyas said he considered it counterproductive.

Michael Byers: An arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin will have consequences for China

“I think these decisions are not the most fortunate because they lead toward escalation and not toward peace,” he said.

The chances of Putin facing trial in The Hague are highly unlikely because Moscow does not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction or extradite its nationals. However, the warrant could limit the Russian leader’s ability to travel to the tribunal’s 123 member nations, which could arrest him in accordance with the warrant.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine 13 months ago, Hungary has condemned the war but refused to supply Ukraine with weapons or allow their transfer across its borders. It has also threatened to veto certain European Union sanctions against Moscow and has held up the adoption of a major EU funding package to Kyiv.

Earlier this week, Hungary refused to join the other 26 EU members in signing a resolution in support of the ICC warrant for Putin.