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    Meet NATO’s next chief, the ‘Trump whisperer’ and fierce critic of Vladimir Putin

    Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Donald Trump.

    Chip Somodevilla/ Getty Images

    Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has been selected as NATO’s next Secretary-General.Rutte will replace Jens Stoltenberg, who has led NATO since 2014.Nicknamed the “Trump whisperer,” Rutte could have an important role should Trump return to the White House.

    NATO has selected outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as its next Secretary-General.

    Rutte, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, will take over from Jens Stoltenberg on October 1, ending the latter’s decadelong run at the helm of the alliance.

    The 57-year-old, who is the Netherlands’ longest-serving prime minister, will take over the reins at a crucial and turbulent time for the alliance, with the US election looming in November and the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza still raging on.

    The intray for Rutte is “daunting,” Philippe Dickinson, the deputy director of the Transatlantic Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, said.

    He will have to contend with “reinforcing defense and deterrence across the Alliance in the face of a hostile and bellicose Russia, helping Ukraine to defeat Russia and welcoming Kyiv into the Alliance, and establishing NATO’s role in dealing with the rising challenge posed by China,” Dickinson continued, “all while evolving the Alliance to keep up with fast-paced technological change and without neglecting NATO’s counterterrorism and crisis management responsibilities.”

    And that’s not to mention the upcoming US election, which comes just a month after Rutte will take office.

    However, the Dutch politician is familiar with Trump, and he has even garnered the nickname the “Trump whisperer” after successfully placating the former president after he had warned during a NATO meeting in 2018 that the US would go its “own way” if other countries did not start spending more on their militaries, per Politico.

    After a fractious few moments, Rutte reportedly “rescued” the situation by telling Trump that other countries’ spending had gone up and that Trump was, in fact, to thank.

    Rutte’s experience and personality could now be key to “Trump-proofing” NATO should he win the November election, Rachel Rizzo, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center, added.

    “He’s seen as cool, calm, and collected. He knows how to handle big egos, he’s worked with Trump before (even praising him at times), and he understands the need for European allies to increase their share of the burden of European security,” she said.

    Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

    Getty Images

    Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow and director of research in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, told Business Insider that Rutte is “a consensus builder” and “a person with a track record of improving his country’s defense burdensharing efforts.”

    Rutte is also a major supporter of Ukraine, and he has been a key driver of European military support for the country since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

    Rutte was influenced by the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014, which killed 196 Dutch nationals. The Netherlands says Russia played a key role in the incident.

    “He won’t stop at Ukraine if we don’t stop him now. This war is bigger than Ukraine itself. It’s about upholding the international rule of law,” Rutte said of Putin in 2022.

    Read the original article on Business Insider

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