Canada to buy U.S.-built surface-to-air missiles for Ukraine

North American Leaders' Summit in Mexico City

By Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canada will buy a U.S.-made National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) for Ukraine, a statement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office said after a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in Mexico City on Tuesday.

Trudeau and Biden are being hosted by Mexico for a North American leaders' meeting and Trudeau told Biden about the purchase during separate discussions the two had on supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia.

"This is the first Canadian donation of an air defense system to Ukraine," Defense Minister Anita Anand said on Twitter after the announcement.

Air defense systems are Ukraine's top priority, she said her Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksii Reznikov, told her in a phone conversation held earlier on Tuesday.

The NASAMS is a short- to medium-range ground-based air defense system that protects against drone, missile, and aircraft attack, Anand said.

The donation has a value of about C$406 million ($302.6 million), and is in addition to the C$500 million Canada promised to Ukraine in November, according to a defense ministry statement. Since February, Canada has committed more than C$1 billion in military assistance to Ukraine.

Trudeau and Biden also "discussed their shared commitment to the defense of North America, including Canada's acquisition of F-35 fighter jets for the Royal Canadian Air Force," according to the statement from the prime minister's office.

Canada finalized a deal to buy 88 F-35 fighter jets from U.S. defense company Lockheed Martin Corp on Monday in a C$19 billion project to replace its aging fleet of fighter aircraft.

($1 = 1.3419 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Steve SchererEditing by Grant McCool)