Brent Scowcroft Center Resident Fellow Erik Brattberg is quoted by OZY on Jens Stoltenberg, NATO's new secretary general:

So it’s probably not the ideal time for Stoltenberg to jump into the fray but that didn’t stop the alliance from announcing late last month that the two-time Norwegian prime minister (who first assumed the post at just 40 years old) would succeed current Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in the organization’s highest civilian post this coming October. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the chief champion for Stoltenberg’s appointment, despite his relative lack of security credentials, based in large part on Oslo’s — and Stoltenberg’s — long-standing ties with Moscow, says Erik Brattberg, an expert on Europe and NATO at the Atlantic Council.

The two neighbors share a 100-plus-mile-long land border and plenty of abutting maritime claims in the Arctic, leading to an amicable, if not necessarily chummy, relationship with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Stoltenberg has proven particularly adept in dealing with Moscow, successfully negotiating a 2010 agreement on borders in the Barents Sea with then-President Dmitry Medvedev that the Russians and Norwegians had been haggling over for 40-some years.

Norway is the rare Western country that ”has been able to maintain very good relationships with Russia” while at the same time being ”very clear on [its] position against Russia and Russia’s role in the Crimea,” not to mention other strong-arm tactics Putin has tried in the past, says Brattberg.

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