By Ismail Shakil
OTTAWA (Reuters) - A panel of retired military leaders from the United States, Canada and the Netherlands will advise a pro-Ukraine campaign on the procurement of protective gear for Ukrainian defense forces, a Canada-based nonprofit group said on Tuesday.
The panel of four includes former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan David Petraeus, former NATO commander Wesley Clark as well as former Dutch defense chief Dick Lodewijk Berlijn, according to the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC).
The panel, expected to grow in size, is chaired by retired Canadian Chief of Defense Staff Rick Hillier.
It would focus on helping supply Ukraine's territorial defence force with protective gear, such as helmets, body armor, ballistic goggles, and medical kits, the UWC said in a statement.
"If we can help get them (Ukrainian defense forces) the equipment from the West ... we can help them win this war" Hillier said at a news conference.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in what it calls a "special military operation" to ensure its own security, has triggered broad sanctions on Moscow and brought the West together to support Ukraine with military and humanitarian aid.
The UWC's campaign has so far raised funds to source and deliver $24 million worth of protective equipment, including the largest nongovernmental delivery of Israeli Bandages, which are used to stop bleeding from traumatic injuries, and gas masks.
The group, which represents Ukrainians globally, has also sought a judicial review of a decision by the Canadian government to return a turbine to Germany that is needed for the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline.
Canada has one of the world's biggest Ukrainian diasporas outside of countries that border Ukraine and the community has successfully pressured Ottawa to impose increasingly strict sanctions against Russia.
(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; editing by Jonathan Oatis)