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24 Mar, 2022 15:20

NATO chief extends term over Ukraine war

Jens Stoltenberg will lead the military alliance another year rather than head up Norway’s central bank
NATO chief extends term over Ukraine war

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will stay on another year due to the conflict in Ukraine, he confirmed on Thursday. Rather than leaving when his term expires in October and becoming governor of Norway’s central bank, Stoltenberg will be kept posted in Brussels.

Stoltenberg said he was “honoured by the decision” of the NATO heads of state to extend his term as Europe faces the “biggest security crisis in a generation” over the conflict in Ukraine. 

The Norwegian native has led NATO since 2014, and previously served as Norway’s prime minister between 2000 and 2001 – and later between 2005 and 2013. Earlier, he worked as the country’s finance minister and energy minister.

The Norwegian Finance Ministry announced on Wednesday it was preparing for Stoltenberg not to be able to take the job, though no specifics were given. Oslo last month named Ida Wolden Bache, previously deputy central bank chief, as governor of the bank for up to nine months, at which point she would presumably cede the job to Stoltenberg.

While the search for a replacement for Stoltenberg reportedly began last month, it’s not clear if any candidates have been floated. A meeting of NATO member nations in June was supposed to allow the countries to weigh in on their preferred choices for the new secretary general. 

NATO has crept eastward since the fall of the Soviet Union, engulfing much of Eastern Europe despite what Moscow views as a verbal agreement between the US and Russia to maintain a buffer zone of neutrality. 

Russia’s attack on Ukraine last month was triggered in part by Kiev’s stated desire to join the transatlantic alliance. While President Volodymyr Zelensky appears to have backed off that particular goal as many other NATO members were made distinctly uncomfortable by the idea, Ukraine is still seeking membership in the European Union. 

Zelensky has called on NATO to beef up military support for his country, claiming if they don’t, Russia will attempt to take on “eastern members of NATO, the Baltic states, Poland for sure.”