to the border

Maksim Chmerkovskiy Plans to Go ‘Join Efforts on the Ground’ Supporting Ukraine

Photo: Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Update, Monday, March 7, at 7:47 p.m.: Less than a week after arriving back in the U.S., Maksim Chmerkovskiy said he plans to leave to join ground efforts supporting Ukraine. The Dancing With the Stars alum said in a CNN interview that he felt guilty for exiting Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian invasion. “I spent the last couple of days with survivor’s remorse, and I’m currently working on an opportunity to go back,” he said. “Probably sometime next week, I’m going to go back to Poland and join efforts on the ground.”

Chmerkovskiy had worked on several TV shows and dance projects in the country. He said that multiple military personnel told him to leave because he was an American citizen and things were “about to get crazy.” However, he explained that he felt bad for doing as instructed. “The feeling sunk in even worse because when I got to the train station, I realized that it’s all women and children,” he said. “I’m too big and I’m taking up space, so I had put myself between trains. I literally moved out of the area where people would’ve all been […] Internally, I sort of justified my space ‘cause I was outside.” Chmerkovskiy’s American citizenship made it possible for him to flee. Reportedly, a military mobilization order from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has banned men ages 18 through 60 from leaving the country.

Update, Wednesday, March 2, at 6:40 p.m.: Maksim Chmerkovskiy has made it back to America after being arrested in Ukraine, per TMZ. Paparazzi spotted him reuniting with wife Peta Murgatroyd. He wrote on a February 28 Instagram Story that he had made it to Poland. The former Dancing With the Stars pro, who had been working on the show World of Dance in Ukraine, said his train trip to Warsaw was “traumatizing” and detailed being packed into a “sweaty and claustrophobic” train. “I absolutely have to say this: Polish people are amazing!!!!!,” he wrote on Instagram. “Thank you from the absolute bottom of my heart.”

Original story follows.

Former Dancing With the Stars pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy said he was arrested in the capital of Ukraine and is now trying to leave the country amid the ongoing Russian invasion. “There’s a lot of fighting everywhere, the streets are crazy,” he said in a five-minute Instagram video. “At one point, I got arrested like a foot outside of here. But again, all good, promise … That was probably the least traumatizing moment in this whole thing as far as Ukraine is concerned.” He described the experience as “a crazy reality check,” adding that he’s not in the mental state to unpack what happened. The dancer and choreographer added that he had decided to head to the border, presumably referring to the Polish-Ukrainian border where thousands have fled. “I have options,” Chmerkovskiy said. “My options are better than most people’s, unfortunately. I’m just a little nervous to be honest with you, but I think it’s going to be alright.” About nine hours later, he shared a travel update on his Instagram story. “I made it on the train,” he wrote. “We’re headed to Warsaw (hopefully).”

Chmerkovskiy has been regularly sharing videos and updates on Instagram as the situation in his home country has worsened. “This does feel like the way it was when and why we left in the 90s,” he wrote in a February 24 post. “Like my old PTSD I’ve finally fixed is coming back.” In his latest video, Chmerkovskiy asked his followers not to panic if he disappears from social media for a while. He explained that at the moment, he’s mainly only staying in touch with his wife, Peta Murgatroyd (a fellow DWTS alum), brother, and parents. He closed his video by calling any “unfair treatment” at the border “inhumane.” African students are reportedly facing discrimination as they attempt to make their way out of Ukraine. “People are running from a conflict, from the war,” Chmerkovskiy said. “Treat everybody the same. I love you all, and I’ll keep you posted.”

Maksim Chmerkovskiy Plans to Join Ground Efforts for Ukraine