Stian Jenssen, the chief of staff to the secretary-general of NATO, recently had his knuckles rapped when he commented on possible options for an end to the war in Ukraine that did not envision a complete Russian defeat.

"I’m not saying it has to be like this, but I think that a solution could be for Ukraine to give up territory and get NATO membership in return,” he said during a panel discussion in Norway, according to the country’s VG newspaper. He also said that "it must be up to Ukraine to decide when and on what terms they want to negotiate,” which is NATO’s standard line.

But the damage was done. The remarks provoked an angry condemnation from the Ukrainians; a clarification from his boss, Jens Stoltenberg; and ultimately an apology from Jenssen.