Amid the Russian invasion of several Ukrainian cities, Maksim Chmerkovskiy had been vocal about his experience living in Kyiv. His wife, Peta Murgatroyd, admittedly struggled to know her spouse could have ended up in peril.
“I mean, I literally wrote him a text, almost a goodbye text like if something happens,” the New Zealand native, 35, told Entertainment Tonight on Thursday, April 7.
Chmerkovskiy, 42, had been living part-time in Kyiv, Ukraine, while filming World of Dance when Russian troops began invading its democratic neighbor in February. After documenting his experience in bomb shelters, the Masked Dancer alum eventually left the country last month.
“To get the phone call and to see him frantically packing his bags trying to get out of the hotel [and leave the country] was just like, I had a heart attack nearly,” the Peta Jane founder recalled to ET. “I had to sit myself down and calm down for him. And then the next eight days were life-changing. Absolutely life-changing.”
The pair — who share 5-year-old son Shai — had an emotional airport reunion on March 2.
“I never thought our family would be directly affected by this in our lifetime, I never thought what we are seeing on our TV’s was a reality in 2022. I have never hugged him so tight,” the two-time Dancing With the Stars champ wrote via Instagram several days later, alongside a snap of her husband cuddling Shai. “Shaking and forever grateful. Now it’s time to heal. We cannot go back to our normal. Our lives are forever changed. We have a new normal, and that’s OK.”
She continued in her post: “Although @maksimc made it home, this DOES NOT mean we aren’t continuing our efforts to provide assistance to the Ukrainian refugees. We have big plans in store and our sole focus is on this war. ❤️”
The DWTS Ukraine judge — who immigrated to the United States in 1994 with his parents and brother Valentin Chmerkovskiy — has since launched a Baranova27 aid project. He then returned to Poland last month to further help those in need.
“[Things] didn’t not end or slow down — it got worse in Ukraine,” Maksim explained via an Instagram video upon his return abroad. “I want everybody to understand what that means because everything that happened, happened fast, and it was traumatic and it was worldwide and everything. But right now, it is getting worse. [The] humanitarian crisis is getting worse. People are getting hurt worse, there are more people hurt and there are more people affected.”
He added: “This is an actual problem: A few towns already announced they cannot accept any more refugees. Currently, where I’m at in Warsaw, the middle of downtown, everywhere you go is Ukrainian. Everybody’s a refugee.”