Jens Stoltenberg to stay as Nato chief for another year

The head of Nato, Jens Stoltenberg, is to stay on for another year after his contract was extended again.

Mr Stoltenberg’s time as secretary general was due to end in October, but the 31 Nato states decided to keep him on rather than opting for someone new.

His term had already been extended three times – and this news means he will complete a decade at the helm.

Other names had been mooted, but the decision suggests Nato wants continuity and experience amid the war in Ukraine.

Mr Stoltenberg, 64, welcomed the news, tweeting: “Honoured by Nato allies’ decision to extend my term as secretary general until 1 October 2024.

“In a more dangerous world, our alliance is more important than ever.”

Nato – the West’s defensive military alliance – has 31 members who agree to help one another if they come under attack.

Norwegian-born Mr Stoltenberg, an economist and former prime minister, is seen as a steady leader, and the announcement comes just a week before the next major Nato summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Several member states, including the US, were thought to have privately been lobbying Mr Stoltenberg to stay on – although US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said his country was not “promoting any particular candidate”.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had been one of the contenders, previously saying he thought the role would be a “good job” and one he would like.

He proved popular with a number of countries on the alliance’s eastern flank because of his leadership in supplying weapons to Ukraine.

But despite his obvious enthusiasm to succeed, Mr Wallace appeared to have failed to get the backing of key allies.

Another contender for the role had been Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who would have been the first female Nato chief.

Jens Stoltenberg Profile

Born 16 March 1959 in Oslo, Norway (aged 64), studied economics. Prime minister by 40, served two terms

Fluent English-speaker who grew up partly in Yugoslavia, where his father was Norwegian ambassador. Married to Norwegian diplomat Ingrid Schulerud, with two grown-up children.

Leader of Nato since 2014, just months after Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine has re-focused diplomatic attention on Nato’s role in the 21st Century and whether it can deter Russian aggression.

The alliance approved its 31st member – Finland – last year. Sweden has also applied to join, but Turkey and Hungary have not yet approved its entry.

Nato was formed in 1949 by 12 countries and its original goal was to challenge Soviet expansion in Europe after World War Two.

More recently, Russia has used the expansion of Nato as a pretext for its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine is not a member, but Mr Stoltenberg has consistently said Kyiv will join Nato in the medium term once the Russian invasion is over.

On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was disappointed his country had not been invited to join Nato at next month’s summit in Vilnius, adding that Ukraine would be the strongest member of Nato’s eastern flank.