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Russian drones set a hotel ablaze in a Ukrainian Black Sea city

Kyiv Ukraine1KYIV: Russian drones early Sunday struck the Black Sea city of Mykolaiv, setting a hotel ablaze and damaging energy infrastructure, the local Ukrainian governor reported, while ammunition shortages continued to hobble Kyiv’s troops in the more than 2-year-old war.

Vitaliy Kim, the governor of Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv province, said that Russian drones “seriously damaged” a hotel in its namesake capital, sparking a fire that was later extinguished. Kim also reported that the strike damaged heat-generating infrastructure in the city, but gave no details. He added that there were no casualties.

Russian state agency RIA carried claims that the strike on Mykolaiv targeted a shipyard where naval drones are assembled, as well as a hotel housing “English-speaking mercenaries” who have fought for Kyiv. The RIA report cited Sergei Lebedev, described as a coordinator of local pro-Moscow guerrillas. His claim could not be independently verified.

Also on Sunday morning, the Russian Defense Ministry said that 17 Ukrainian drones were downed overnight over four regions in the country’s southwest. Three drones were intercepted near an oil depot in Lyudinovo, an industrial town some 230 kilometers (143 miles) north of the Ukrainian border, Gov. Vladislav Shapsha said. There were no immediate reports of any casualties or damage.

Russian shelling on Saturday and overnight wounded at least seven civilians across Ukraine, according to Ukrainian officials.

The Donetsk and Kharkiv regions have seen fierce clashes in recent weeks as Russian forces seek to grind out gains along the more than 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) front line, while ammunition shortages have increasingly hamstrung Ukraine’s defenses.

Russian troops “will likely make significant gains in the coming weeks” while Kyiv awaits much-needed arms from a huge U.S. aid package to reach the front, a Washington-based think tank said.

In its latest operational assessment, the Institute for the Study of War said that Moscow’s forces have opportunities to push forward around Avdiivka, the eastern city they took in late February after a gruelling, montshlong fight, and threaten nearby Chasiv Yar. Its capture would give Russia control of a hilltop from which it can attack other key cities forming the backbone of Ukraine’s eastern defenses.

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