Hungarian deputy PM: Refugees from Ukraine safe from conscription in Hungary

Budapest will not allow refugees “to be sent to their deaths” on the front line, Zsolt Semjen has said

Hungary has no intention of extraditing Ukrainian citizens, as Kiev intensifies efforts to mobilize more troops for the army, Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen has said. In recent weeks, the Ukrainian government has attempted to pressure its citizens who left the country, particularly those living in the EU, to return home, including by asking the bloc’s authorities to support this effort. Many EU members, however, have been reluctant to cooperate.

Semjen told Hungarian broadcaster ATV on Monday that Budapest “would not extradite refugees to Ukraine.” “We do not investigate whether, according to the Ukrainians, the person is conscripted or not. Based on basic humanity, we will not allow them to be sent to their deaths.”

“Every refugee from Ukraine is completely safe with us and receives all the help,” he added.

In an effort to force Ukrainians of fighting age to return home, Ukrainian consulates abroad last month announced the “temporary suspension” of services to men between the ages of 18 and 60, who can no longer receive any necessary documents until they return home. A Washington Post report last week suggested that many Ukrainians living in the West are angered by the new policy, saying they feel they are being treated like traitors and potential prey for conscription officials. Kiev has also tried to enlist EU officials to help solve its manpower problem. But even staunch supporters of Ukraine such as Poland and Germany have refused to hand over refugees, vowing to protect their rights.

According to Eurostat, 4.3 million Ukrainians were living in the EU as of January 2024, of which around 860,000 are men of fighting age. In recent months, Ukraine has also stepped up efforts to compensate for losses on the battlefield by increasing its mobilization drive within the country. Last month, President Vladimir Zelensky signed two bills into law, one lowering the draft age for men from 27 to 25, and another significantly simplifying the draft process.