Former “Dancing With the Stars” professional dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy has revealed that he plans to try to escape Ukraine amid the Russian invasion. He admitted that he’s nervous but he thinks everything will be OK. Here is what he wanted his followers to know.
UPDATE: Maks posted just after 8 a.m. Eastern that he has made it to Poland.
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Maks Said He Was Able to Board a Train For Poland
In an Instagram video, Maksim said that he thinks it’s time to try to leave Ukraine because the fighting is “everywhere” and he was actually arrested at one point. He also said that he is fortunate that he has better options than most other Ukrainian civilians.
He also admitted he’s nervous, telling his followers:
I’m going to try to make my way out [of the country]. I’m going to try to start getting towards the border. I have options. My options are better than most people’s, but I’m a little nervous, to be honest with you. But I think it’s going to be alright. I know it’s going to be OK. I’m just going to keep you posted throughout this process as I can.
In the video, he also detailed how a friend of his left for the Polish border two days ago and is still on a bus trying to get there.
“She still has not made it to the Polish border. She’s been on a bus for the last two days … during the night it’s cold, they turn off the engine to save gas and there’s no heat,” said Maks.
But he also said that she is relaying both “crazy stories” and “also gorgeous stories, beautiful stories” from the countryside.
“She said the entire route from Lviv to the Polish border in every direction there are volunteers constantly feeding and giving food and drinks and hot drinks and all of that,” said Maks.
In a follow-up Instagram satory, Maks revealed that he made it onto a train headed for Warsaw, Poland, but that he has not made it out of Ukraine yet.
“I made it on the train. We’re heading to Warsaw (hopefully). Train to Lvi was not an option,” wrote Maks, adding that the train station was “insane.”
“At first it feels manageable, but it gets A LOT worse when it comes time to actually board the train. Long story, but all I can say now is that I’m a big man with nothing but a backpack and it’s TRAUMATIZING,” wrote Maks. “Currently I’m in a cabin with four adults and seven kids (ages 2-11) which is usually only occupied by maximum of three people. There’s usually up to 30 people in this particular wagon. We were told we have to fit 135. Walkways are packed. People everywhere. It’s sweaty and clastrophobic.”
He continued, “What finally broke me is when I was watching an 8-ish year old boy, hysterically crying and not wanting to let go of his father. Verbatim: ‘If you stay, I want to stay too because if they kill you I won’t be able to help.”
UPDATE: Just after 8 a.m. Eastern, Maks posted a story update that he made it to Poland. He has also been re-posting other people’s videos showing the devastation in Ukraine, including one of a woman whose leg had been severed by an explosion. He wrote that she later died at the hospital.
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The professional dancer has been currently stranded in Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine, because he was there filming the Ukrainian version of “World of Dance,” on which he is a judge for the new season.
He said in a previous update that he is “right in the eye of the storm” of where the fighting could be at its worst and it’s hard to keep his wits about him.
“[I’m] right in the eye of the storm with an insane proximity to where this is all supposed to come to an end, if ever. This is a war. This is a crazy situation, it’s insane and I’m losing my final little things,” said Maks. “This is not a cry for help, I’m a big boy, I can handle myself, and as I said, I’m safe, but I’m starting to not be able to just, sort of, um, keep my head. I’m trying to stay focused and just try to let my voice be heard.”
Maks Asked His Friends and Followers Not To Worry If He Disappears For A While
After revealing he is going to try to make it to the border, Maks said that he has a favor to ask of his friends and followers — don’t worry about him if he has to go radio silent for a while.
“I just want a favor from everybody. Just don’t panic if I disappear for a minute because I know a lot of people are watching now,” said Maks, adding that he is “not answering a lot of texts and a lot of calls.”
“Mostly I just speak to [my wife] Peta and my parents and my brother,” said Maks. “For everybody else, if you’re following this to see how I’m doing, if I disappear for a little bit, just please don’t worry and I’m going to do my best in making sure that I keep you updated.”
If you’d like to know how you can help the people of Ukraine, Maksim and Peta have both pointed to Bethenny Frankel’s B Strong organization, which aids in humanitarian crises around the world. You can donate here.