On Thursday, France expressed concern that the worst of Russia's attack on Ukraine was yet to come, with important Ukrainian cities at risk of Russian encirclement.
"I believe the worst is yet to come," Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France 2 TV, adding that once its initial expectations of a rapid win were dashed by Ukrainian resistance, Russia would attempt to besiege cities.
"The Russians came into Ukraine expecting for a blitzkrieg, a quick advance that would allow them to conquer Ukraine," Le Drian added.
"This was not the case, thanks to the Ukrainians' exceptional, courageous, and tenacious resistance."
He claimed that following Russia's capture of Kherson in the south, which Ukraine confirmed overnight, cities such as Kharkiv in the east, Mariupol in the south, and Kyiv itself were at risk of being encircled.
"We can dread a siege mentality as fores rise up around such cities," he warned.
Le Drian remembered Russian methods in the Syrian conflict as well as against rebels in Chechnya.
"The Russians are used to it; think of Aleppo and Grozny. This might be quite dangerous. The calamity continues, as does Russia's heinous attack."
When asked about Russian President Vladimir Putin's strategy for Ukraine, Le Drian said Putin sought "the negation of Ukraine and the denial of a democratic country on his doorstep."
He claimed that tensions over the pro-Moscow Ukrainian separatist areas of Donetsk and Lugansk were only a "alibi, a pretext" for the Russian invasion on February 24.
"Putin's desire is to prevent having democratic models on his doorstep that might have an impact on Russia's development," he said.
Le Drian is scheduled to visit Moldova, Ukraine's neighbour, later Thursday in a show of support for the country's pro-EU administration as Russian forces push further east.
Following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and the shutdown of airspace between Russia and the European Union, France "strongly" urged its people to leave Russia if their presence was "not vital."
"We must strengthen our vigilance in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the application of international sanctions," the foreign ministry declared on its website. Paris has already advised French citizens going through Russia to leave the country on Sunday.