Hungary Will Not Arrest Putin, Blasts ICC Warrant, While South Africa Seeks Legal Advice
Following the International Criminal Court (ICC) last Friday issuing an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin, Hungary says it will not arrest the Russian head of state if he were to enter the country.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, "shocked" European allies with the Thursday declaration. "We can refer to the Hungarian law and based on that we cannot arrest the Russian President... as the ICC’s statute has not been promulgated in Hungary," Gulyas said.
He noted the Hungarian government has not yet "formed a stance" on the question of the ICC's arrest warrant. But resistance to the possibility of arresting Putin is no surprise when it comes to Hungary, given Orban's consistent warnings that NATO is "drifting" toward war with Russia, and that this steady escalation needs to be stopped.
Gulyas referenced this stance in his Friday remarks, explaining, "These decisions are not the most fortunate as they take things towards further escalation and not towards peace, this is my personal subjective opinion."
CNN called these words "sympathetic" to the Kremlin, given the criticism heaped on the Hague-based court's decision. However, Budapest has consistently urged the West to get more serious about peace negotiations. The Hungarian presidency's office was responding to the German government declaring earlier this week that it will act on the warrant and arrest Putin if he ever chose to fly to German soil.
At the same time, the Kremlin has warned it is prepared to attack any country that moves to arrest the Russian head of state.
In the summer, Putin is due to visit South Africa, a signatory 1998 Rome Statute that established the international court...
President Putin has been invited to the BRICS summit in South Africa despite the ICC arrest warrant— GraphicW (@GraphicW5) March 23, 2023
Russian President Vladimir Putin is invited to the BRICS summit in South Africa, despite an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court, according to South African… pic.twitter.com/GTG4YspFDB
Given the ICC doesn't have a police force, any actual attempt to detain Putin would be the decision of a government, so needless to say it could not possibly be enforced by ICC authorities alone.
But it does clearly complicate Putin's ability to travel to European or other capitals which cooperate with the ICC. This also means it could hinder peace efforts in the scenario Putin might choose to personally engage in negotiations or diplomacy in a European city.
Meanwhile, South Africa is nervous over the August BRICS summit, given Putin is expected to attend:
"We are, as the government, cognisant of our legal obligation. However, between now and the summit we will remain engaged with various relevant stakeholders," spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said.
While there has been no official confirmation of Putin's visit, he has been expected to attend the 15th BRICS summit, as he did in 2013.
South Africa is taking legal advice on how to handle an international arrest warrant for Putin in the event the Russian leader attends a BRICS summit in August https://t.co/Tm86fq6KNE— Bloomberg (@business) March 24, 2023
According to more from Reuters, "But such a visit would place Ramaphosa's government, which has not condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in a precarious position after the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday."