On the ground. Maksim Chmerkovskiy gave followers a glimpse of the situation in his native Ukraine as the Russian invasion began.
The former Dancing With the Stars pro, 42, filmed two Instagram videos on Thursday, February 24, that showed fans what the situation has been like since Russian President Vladimir Putin began his invasion of the country earlier in the day.
“Everyone was hoping that the finality of the situation would be averted,” the dancer said in his first video, which showed him on a balcony in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. “Honestly, I’m getting really emotional. It’s been a little difficult. You know me, I stay strong. And I don’t show it, but I want to go back home.”
The ballroom champion said he has been living on and off in Kyiv for the past six months. He splits his time between there and Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife, Peta Murgatroyd, and their 5-year-old son, Shai.
The reality star and his younger brother, Val Chmerkovskiy, were both born in Odessa, Ukraine. They immigrated to the United States with their family in 1994.
In his video on Thursday, Maksim noted that he has the ability to leave Ukraine if he wishes, but he asked his followers to think about the people who cannot.
“What I’m realizing is that my friends whose kids are here, whose moms, dads are here, and elderly people are here, they can’t just escape,” he said. “I am not at this point someone who is pleading for someone else’s safety from a far distance, from a safe distance. I’m somebody who’s about to go into a bomb shelter because s–t’s going down.”
The former Broadway star also asked fans to respect his family’s privacy while he remains in Europe and Murgatroyd, 35, stays in the U.S. “Don’t bombard Peta with messages,” he said. “It’s not what’s important right now. I’m gonna do my best and try to keep you informed.”
In his caption, Maksim noted that the invasion reminds him of the way he and his family felt in the 1990s when they left Ukraine. “I will never be the same,” he wrote. “This is stressful and I’m getting old feelings back, like I’ve done this before. This does feel like the way it was when and why we left in the 90s. Like my old PTSD I’ve finally fixed is coming back.”
The Masked Dancer alum shared a second video in which he slammed Russia and Putin, 69, for the invasion.
“I think that in 2022 [in a] civilized world, this is not the way we do things,” he said. “This is all one man’s ambition … and however it sounds, however convenient it sounds in Moscow, however comfortable you are where you are in Russia, I just don’t think that this is the right thing and this is the right steps and these are the correct actions.”
For access to all our exclusive celebrity videos and interviews – Subscribe on YouTube!