Shilo soldiers fined, reprimanded after drunken incident in Ukraine

Soldier found guilty of assault after 'hazing' incident reprimanded, fined $1,500

Two soldiers based at CFB Shilo have been fined and reprimanded following an incident that occurred while the pair was deployed overseas last year.

Sgt. Connor Burton and Sgt. Alex Shulaev were charged in August 2017 with one count each of drunkenness. The pair was deployed overseas at the time as part of Operation Unifier, a Canadian Armed Forces joint task force mission to support Ukrainian armed forces in Ukraine.

Canadian troops were assisting Ukrainian troops with military training.

A military court martial heard Monday that the pair, along with a third soldier, were discovered at about 1 a.m. on July 28, 2017 at the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre in Yavoriv, Ukraine, after a seaman was awoken by screaming and fighting outside of the hostels where soldiers were sleeping.

Burton was found with bruising on his face when military police arrived and police believed he and the two others were intoxicated at the time. Burton and Shulaev were charged after an investigation.

Court heard that soldiers deployed on the mission were allowed to have two alcoholic drinks per 24 hours.

The charge, under the National Defence Act, related to both drugs and alcohol and can be laid in situations where someone is unfit to do their duty when called upon or behaves in a way that brings discredit to the Canadian Armed Forces. The penalty ranges from fines and reprimands to time in prison.

Military Judge Commander Sandra Sukstorf heard that both soldiers are decorated sergeants with unblemished records, considered among the top in their units, who have done multiple tours of duty in Afghanistan. Shulaev was on his second tour in Ukraine at the time.

Defence lawyer David Hodgson described Shulaev as a "warrior diplomat" who was deployed twice on the Unifier mission because he could speak fluent Russian.

Military Prosecutor Maj. Robert Gauvin told the court that the level of intoxication was an aggravating factor as was the fact that the incident occurred while the soldiers were deployed in a mentorship role.

Court was told both were considered ambassadors to Canada at the time and were "experiencing difficulties," having been away from their wives and families for a long time.

The judge fined each solider $750 and reprimand both for their actions in an effort to deter similar behaviour from other soldiers and said both stand to have long military careers, chalking up their actions as a mistake.