New NATO Chief Stoltenberg Brings Russia Ties To Job

With a background like his, one might have to ask who he works for, exactly.


OSLO, NORWAY — Norway’s Jens Stoltenberg brings close Russia ties to his new job as NATO chief, equipping him with a potentially key asset as tensions with the Kremlin hover at post-Soviet highs.

The former Norwegian prime minister — the first NATO secretary general from a country bordering Russia — is known for his good relations with President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

The 55-year-old will take office on Wednesday, at a moment in history when NATO’s face-off with Russia over Ukraine has sparked tensions not seen since the collapse of the Soviet bloc.

“It’s very hard to anticipate how he will behave in this position regarding his rather positive past with Moscow,” said Vivien Pertusot at the French Institute of International Relations in Brussels.

“He’s been extremely silent these last months, since his appointment became public. Will he follow the firm steps of (his Danish predecessor Anders Fogh) Rasmussen or will he try to become a soothing mediator?”

Merkel’s Protege

Paradoxically, NATO’s new secretary general was once a staunch opponent of both the Western military alliance and the European Union, two organizations with which he has eventually come to terms.

As a long-haired teenager in the 1970s, he threw stones at the US embassy in Oslo in reaction to the Vietnam War.

But under his leadership in the 1980s, Norway’s Labour Youth went from advocating the country’s exit of NATO to rallying to the cause of the Atlantic alliance.

Full article: New NATO Chief Stoltenberg Brings Russia Ties To Job (Defense News)

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