Hungary would not arrest Putin over ICC warrant: govt official

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Hungary would not arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin if he entered its territory, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff said Thursday.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday announced an arrest warrant for Putin on the war crime accusation of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children.

But the warrant was not legally binding in Hungary, according to government official Gergely Gulyas, even though the EU member is an ICC member.

"We can refer to the Hungarian law and on that basis we cannot arrest the Russian president... as the ICC's statute has not been promulgated in Hungary," Gulyas told a press briefing in Budapest.

Hungary signed the ICC's Rome Statute in 1999 and ratified it in 2001, during the first term in power of Orban, who has won four straight elections since 2010.

Gulyas said the statute had not been formally introduced into Hungarian law as "it would go against the constitution".

He added that neither the United States nor Russia recognise the jurisdiction of the ICC.

Budapest has declined to comment on the warrant itself, but Gulyas said the decision was "not the most fortunate".

It was a move "in the direction of escalation rather than peace," he said.

Orban -- close to Putin before the war -- has drawn fierce criticism from EU allies for refusing to send weapons to Kyiv, opposes sanctions against Russia, and has urged peace talks instead.