Douglas Lute, the US’s ambassador to Nato, praised Stoltenberg for his “leadership style” and “position of strength” in dealing with the Russians.
“In his first few months Stoltenberg has shown that he is everything that we asked for,” Lute told Norway’s Dagbladet newspaper in a conference call with journalists.
“Jens Stoltenberg has a leadership style that is important for the alliance,” Lute continued, saying that this was crucial to holding together the 28-nation alliance.
He particularly commended Stoltenberg’s dealings with the Russians, crucial as Russian aggression in Ukraine risks drawing Nato into a military conflict.
“He is very balanced,” Lute said of Stoltenberg’s handling of talks with Russia. “As prime minister of Norway, he has had a lot of personal experience dealing with Russia. He acts from a base of strength, but he also has a willingness to open dialogue.”
Stoltenberg met Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
“It’s clear that we assess the situation in Ukraine in very different ways,” Stoltenberg told reporters after the meeting. “I repeated Nato’s strong support for a sovereign, independent Ukraine and I also underscored Russia’s responsibility for the critical situation because Russia is supporting the separatists and because Russia does not respect the rules.”