Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko greeted me with a strong handshake and a big smile but his message to international partners was stern.
The big question on many people’s lips right now is how is this war going to end?
The eastern Donbas is now home to the biggest battle in Europe for generations.
I asked Mr Klitschko if there was any pressure from international partners to do a deal with Russia – to give Moscow the industrialised Donbas in exchange for peace in Ukraine?
“I am sometimes upset if I listen to these messages from our partners. It’s the same message that tells the Russian Federation, “okay, we’re ready to find a compromise, let’s find a solution”.
He added: “Which compromise? To give up part of our territory is compromise? For us, for Ukrainians, it’s not.”
I asked if that would represent a betrayal and his response was clear.
“We feel betrayal.”
Mr Klitschko said it can’t be an option because Russia would not stop at that – they want the whole of Ukraine, he tells me.
The advantage Ukrainian forces have over the Russian military is motivation. “
“They are fighting for money. We are fighting for our children,” he said.
Many will know Mr Klitschko as the former world heavyweight champion boxer. If this war was a boxing match, what round are we in?
He wouldn’t be drawn on a timeline but said “sport has rules” and “even war has rules”, but Russia is not playing by any rule book.
It’s not the first time I’ve heard this. Civilians who have escaped Mariupol have said this to me before – that is what makes this war so frightening for ordinary people here.
It was little surprise to hear the ongoing call for more artillery.
“Right now I talk to our military forces, to our soldiers, and everyone says exactly the same: we need more weapons, right now, there’s not enough,” he said.
The overriding message? We need more help – and don’t betray us.