Ukraine morning briefing: Five developments as Ukraine claims to have hit Russian ship at Snake Island

Plus: Zelensky says Russians who target schools are 'sick and incurable' and first Russian due to go on trial in Ukraine for war crimes

Forensics experts examine the body of a Russian soldier in the village of Zavalivka, west of Kyiv Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Russian forces who attacked schools in the Chernihiv region were on Thursday night branded 'sick and incurable' by Ukraine's president. Volodymyr Zelensky also condemned what he suggested were senseless attacks in the Zaporizhzhia region and the Donbas.

He made his comments as the battle for the Avostal steelworks intensified and the power struggle for Snake Island continued. 

Here's what happened overnight – and you can follow the latest updates in our live blog.

1. Russian logistics ship hit near Snake Island 

Ukraine has claimed to have damaged a Russian navy logistics ship near Snake Island, a small but strategic outpost in the Black Sea. 

Renewed fighting around Snake Island in recent days may become a battle for control of the western Black Sea coast, according to some defence officials, as Russian forces struggle to make headway in Ukraine's north and east.

"Thanks to the actions of our naval seamen, the support vessel Vsevolod Bobrov caught fire - it is one of the newest in the Russian fleet," said Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration.

The claim could not be independently verified. Russia's defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A Maxar satellite image of Snake Island shows the aftermath of probable missile attacks on a Russian Serna-class landing craft Credit: 2022 Maxar Technologies

Satellite imagery provided by Maxar, a private US-based company, above, shows the aftermath of what it said were probable missile attacks on a Russian Serna-class landing craft near the island, close to Ukraine's sea border with Romania.

Images also showed recent damage to buildings on the island, which became famous for the foul-mouthed defiance of its Ukrainian defenders early in the invasion.

2. Russians are 'cowards hiding behind air strikes'

Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russian forces of being "cowards who hide behind air strikes" after the Kremlin targeted a refinery in the Kremenchuk, on the Zaporizhzhia region and the Donbas.

In his nightly video address to the nation, Ukraine's president said: "They are cowards, and they try to hide the truth behind missiles, air strikes and artillery shelling.

"Therefore our task is to fight until we achieve our goals in this war: to free our land, our people and secure our security."

Mr Zelensky also accused Russian forces of bombing schools in Ukraine. A school in Novhorod-Siverskyi, in the Chernihiv region, was on Thursday destroyed by Russian bombs. 

The inside of a school in Novhorod-Siverskyi which was destroyed by Russian shelling Credit: REUTERS

Mr Zelensky said: "Of course, the Russian state is in such a state that any education only gets in its way. But what can be achieved by destroying Ukrainian schools? All Russian commanders who give such orders are simply sick, and incurable."

3. First Russian soldier to go on trial for war crimes

The first Russian soldier is due to go on trial for war crimes in Ukraine on Friday, according to reports.

Vadim Shysimarin, a commander of the Kantemirovskaya Tank Division, will face a trial over the alleged murder of a 68-year-old man.

The 21-year-old, who is in Ukrainian custody, is among four Russians who are accused of targeting or killing civilians, according to files submitted by Ukraine's prosecutor general and reported by The Guardian.

Ukrainian prosecutors are considering more than 11,000 reported crimes since Putin's invasion in February.

Mr Shysimarin was fighting in the Sumy region of northeast Ukraine when on Feb 28 he is alleged to have killed an unarmed civilian in the village of Chupakhivka. 

4. Azovstal relatives plea for help

Relatives and supporters of Ukrainian fighters in the Azovstal steel plant on Thursday called for fresh efforts to save them as Kyiv said new talks were under way with Moscow on a plan to rescue badly wounded servicemen.

Russian forces have been bombarding the steelworks in the southern port of Mariupol, the last bastion of Ukrainian defenders in a city almost completely controlled by Russia after more than two months of a siege.

Ukrainian service troops take positions, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the Azovstal complex Credit: AZOV REGIMENT

Civilians had been trapped at the plant and Kyiv says they have all been evacuated. But there is no deal on allowing out hundreds of fighters, some of whom are wounded.

"We have started a new round of negotiations around a road map for an (evacuation) operation. And we will start with those who are badly wounded," Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told 1+1 television.

5. One hundred children killed in a month

Nearly 100 children were killed in Ukraine in the past month, the UN's children's agency said on Thursday, as it warned of a "child rights crisis".

Omar Abdi, deputy executive director of Unicef, told the UN Security Council that children are paying "an unconscionably high price" in the war, with 239 confirmed killed and 355 wounded since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb 24. He said the actual numbers are much higher.

"These attacks must stop," Mr Abdi said. "Ultimately, children need an end to this war - their futures hang in the balance."

A mother and her child arrive in Kyiv after returning from Poland where they fled at the start of the invasion Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Mr Abdi said the school year came to a standstill after Russia invaded, and as of last week at least 15 of 89 Unicef-supported schools in the country's east had been damaged or destroyed in the fighting.

Millions of children have been forced to flee their homes.