(Bloomberg) -- NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg ramped up the pressure on Canada to uphold its commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defense, noting that it’s one of a minority of members that will fail to meet that level this year.

Canada agreed in 2006, along with all North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies, to hit the spending target, and reaffirmed that pledge as recently as 2023 after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It currently spends 1.33% of gross domestic product on defense, and a policy update earlier this year promised to reach 1.76% by 2030.

In 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, just three member countries met the 2% target, Stoltenberg said in a speech in Ottawa on Wednesday. This year, 23 of 32 NATO allies will do so, he said. 

Stoltenberg acknowledged that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has agreed to add billions in new spending in coming years, including by modernizing the aerospace warning system known as Norad and investing in fifth-generation F-35 aircraft. 

“At the same time, I continue to expect that all allies should meet the guideline of spending 2%,” Stoltenberg said in the speech to the NATO Association of Canada.

“I know this is not always easy because I’ve been a politician, parliamentarian and a prime minister for many years, and I know that it’s always easier to spend money on health, education, infrastructure and many other important tasks than to invest more in defense.”

Canada is facing mounting calls to contribute more to defense, particularly as its military presence in the Arctic pales in comparison with Russia’s. A bipartisan group of US senators urged Trudeau to produce a plan to meet the 2% commitment in a letter last month. 

Trudeau is set to face other NATO leaders at the organization’s summit in Washington in July. Defense Minister Bill Blair recently told Bloomberg News that Canada will meet the 2% goal — it’s a question of when — though money still needs to be allocated for some of the planned spending in future budgets. 

Stoltenberg was in Washington earlier this week meeting with President Joe Biden. He flew to Ottawa on Wednesday — a US holiday — to deliver the speech and meet with Trudeau behind closed doors. He’s set to return to Washington to consult with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Thursday.

--With assistance from Thomas Seal.

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