Error 404! NASAMS System Purchased By Canada For $406M For Ukraine “Vanishes” In Thick Air

As Ukrainian air defense units grapple with incessant Russian missile and drone attacks, there is still no update on the cutting-edge NASAMS that were pledged by the Canadian government to the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) almost a year ago in January 2023.

The President of Ukraine has been reiterating in the last few days that deploying air defense systems on the front lines is the country’s top priority this year. With a relentless aerial onslaught, Kyiv’s air defenses are working over time, and Ukrainian officials have appealed to their Western counterparts for additional air defense systems.

Canada announced plans to donate the US$406-million surface-to-air missile defense system NASAMS to Ukraine on January 10, 2023. The pledge was made after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with US President Joe Biden during the North American leaders’ meeting in Mexico City last January.

However, currently, it is unclear if the Canadian government knows when the system will finally be delivered to Kyiv. This has come as a rude shock given that the country maintains that it already paid US$ 406 million to the US government in March 2023.

The idea is for Canada to reimburse the US government for the whole cost of the system and for the US to sign a foreign military sales contract with Ukraine directly. Under such a deal, Canada wouldn’t have to reapply to the US government for additional authorization to transfer the system to Ukraine, which is necessary each time American military hardware is sold abroad.

One of the two manufacturers of the NASAMS system claimed to have no contract for the Canadian donation almost a year after the system was first announced.

According to Ukraine, the NASAMS medium-range missile systems are essential for protecting its territory against Russian bombing. They can destroy drones, cruise missiles, and aircraft. The Ukrainian President has, thus, started exerting pressure to bring the NASAMS home.

File Image: NASAMS

After a conversation with the Canadian Prime Minister, Zelensky wrote on Platform X, “Our entire diplomatic team, everyone in charge of communicating with partners, and all Ukrainian representatives around the world are fully committed to ensuring the delivery of additional air defense systems and ammunition.”

“I am grateful to Prime Minister Trudeau for his willingness to assist us in protecting the Ukrainian sky, particularly by providing additional NASAMS systems and missiles.” It was unclear from their conversation if he was discussing a recent donation or the system Canada promised to pay for last year.

The non-delivery of the system has raised some brutal questions for Canadian and US administrations. For instance, military watchers asked why the Biden government did not take the emergency arms sale route to supply the Ukrainian military despite getting paid the total amount by Canada.

The Canadian government has reportedly stated that it was discussing the issue with the United States. Most of the talks between the two regarding NASAMS are on a production and delivery schedule. EurAsian Times could not independently corroborate this information.

Moreover, the opacity surrounding the planned transfer of this advanced air defense system to Ukraine has piqued the interest of military analysts and netizens who expressed suspicion. There are no details that Canada’s defense ministry has released or made public. There also remains an air of secrecy among manufacturers – Konsberg and Raytheon.

NASAMS, the IRIS-T, and the Patriots are the bulwarks of Ukraine’s air defense inventory supplied by NATO partners. Thus, it needs as many as it can manage, and a non-fulfillment of a promised delivery may have come as a rude shock to Kyiv.

Moreover, these reports come when military aid to Ukraine is believed to be drying up, leaving the country in a lurch even as Russia continues to fire its long-range, advanced missiles o Ukraine as a means to cripple the country again this winter. 

No Military Assistance For Ukraine?

There are reports that US military support to Ukraine has “ground to a halt,” with Congress failing to authorize the emergency funds President Joe Biden’s administration requested in late October.

During a White House news conference on January 11, National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby stated that Washington had “issued the last drawdown package that we had funding” to support.

“And that’s why it’s critical that Congress move on that national security supplemental request and we get more funding. Our assistance has now ground to a halt,” he said.

Jamala on X: "So proud of you, @ZelenskyyUa 🇺🇦" / X
US President Joe Biden with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (via Platform X)

This announcement comes at a time when Ukraine has been requesting its partners to send more military aid to strengthen its fight against Russia and amid concerns that the United States would have to stop the aid to Kyiv as its coffers are drying up. Congress has its reservations about approving the aid.

In October, the White House requested that Congress pass a US$106 billion supplemental funding bill to bolster border security and aid Israel, Ukraine, and other partners in the Indo-Pacific region. However, bipartisan talks on that bill came to a standstill shortly after.

In early December, the White House issued an urgent appeal to Congress, warning that if the financial infusion were to stop, Ukraine would start losing ground against Russia. 

Shalanda Young, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, said in a letter to Congress, “I want to be clear: without congressional action, by the end of the year, we will run out of resources to procure more weapons and equipment for Ukraine and to provide equipment from US military stocks.”

As funding is drying up, Kyiv is courting other partners in NATO to resupply the military. On the question of ceasefire, the Ukrainian President said that it would not be in his country’s interest as it would just allow Moscow more time to stock up on weapons.

“We must win this battle, not only because the fate of our country and all nations that border Russia is at stake. What is at stake is how global freedom will be treated now and in the future for our children and grandchildren,” Zelenskyy wrote in a post on X.