Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday there were "heavy battles" along the entire front line after Russia launched a major ground offensive on the country's northeast.

"There are heavy battles along the entire front line," Zelensky said in a post on social media after hearing a report from his commander-in-chief. "We discussed defensive actions and strengthening our positions in the Kharkiv region," he added.

Meanwhile, the United States said Friday it expected Russia to intensify a new offensive in Ukraine but voiced confidence in Kyiv and doubted Moscow would make major advances.

"It is possible that Russia will make further advances in the coming weeks, but we do not anticipate any major breakthroughs, and over time, the influx of US assistance will enable Ukraine to withstand these attacks over the course of 2024," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

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Washington announced a new $400 million military aid package for Kyiv hours after the offensive began, as the White House seeks to supply military hardware as quick as possible.

In a memo released by the White House, President Joe Biden authorized the provision of "up to $400 million in defense articles and services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training" to aid Ukraine.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the package contains "urgently needed capabilities" including air defense munitions, artillery rounds, anti-tank weapons, armored vehicles and small arms ammunition.

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According to an intercepted call, Russian forces are under constant fire from Ukrainian troops in the Kharkiv sector, forcing them to hide in “burrows.”

"The United States and the international coalition we have assembled will continue to stand with Ukraine in its defense of its freedom," Blinken said.

Russian shelling killed three people in the Kharkiv region and two others in the eastern region of Donetsk, another fighting hotspot, local prosecutors said.

"Enemy shelling from various types of weapons has been intensifying in Kharkiv region in the northern area for the last day," Kharkiv region governor Oleh Synegubov wrote on Telegram.

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"Evacuation routes have been developed since 2022, and a system of humanitarian aid distribution, temporary resettlement," he said.

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