WASHINGTON, October 9 (RIA Novosti) - The appointment of Norway's former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg as NATO secretary general can give a new impetus to the military bloc's stagnating relations with Russia, former NATO consultant John Wallace said Thursday at the Center on Global Interests in Washington.
Wallace compared NATO's former head Anders Fogh Rasmussen, whom he described as "a guy who wanted to win," with a more level-headed Stoltenberg, adding the incumbent NATO chief "is expected to take a softer and a more consensus-based approach."
"He [Stoltenberg] stated that he is open-minded about the possibility of repairing the relationship and putting the NATO-Russia council back into effect," Wallace pointed out.
Jens Stoltenberg took up NATO top job on October 1. Wallace noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin had initially welcomed Stoltenberg's appointment as the NATO secretary general, saying they "worked well together in the past," which "gives a new hope for a new beginning, if you will, between Russia and NATO."
Relations between Moscow and NATO soured following Crimea's reunification with Russia in March. A month later, the 28-member state bloc froze its cooperation with Russia, only maintaining contacts at the ambassadorial and higher levels.
Under Rasmussen's leadership, NATO also stepped up its military presence close to Russian borders, specifically in Poland and in the former Soviet Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.