“Dancing With the Stars” professional dancer Val Chmerkovskiy appeared on influencer Olivia Jade’s podcast to talk about the situation in Ukraine, which he says feels like a “betrayal.” Read on to find out why and also how he feels about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who actually won the Ukrainian version of “Dancing With the Stars.”
Val Chmerkovskiy Says The Russian Invasion Is a ‘Betrayal’ of the Countries’ Shared History
On the March 28 episode of “Conversations with Olivia Jade,” the podcast hosted by Val’s “Dancing With the Stars” season 30 partner, the topic was the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Val’s home country from which he immigrated to the United States in 1994.
Val talked at length about his country’s shared history with Russia as part of the Soviet Union and how “heartbreaking” the invasion is. It feels like a betrayal to him.
“That’s why this is so sad. Ukrainians and Russians are not just neighbors. Our grandparents lived through the holocaust together. They fought in World War II together. The Soviet Union lost 27 million people in World War II. Twenty-seven million people. That included not just Russians, that included Ukrainians and Belarussians and Lithuains and Estonians and Romanians and everybody I just mentioned. Some of those grandparents haven’t died yet and for them to see the situation that’s happening, it’s heartbreaking,” said Val.
He went on to talk about how in his daily life, he tries to be the kind of person who sees “every angle.”
“There’s never just one side to a debate and I think it’s important to also be empathetic enough to see what the other side is thinking or feeling or wants,” said Val.
But in this case, he doesn’t think there are two sides.
“I think in this particular case, it’s kind of very clear. I have to confront my elasticity sometimes and be like, ‘No, bro, listen there’s some things that are right and there’s some things that are wrong.’ This is an unprovoked invasion by a neighbor that feels not just invasive, it feels like betrayal,” said the professional dancer.
That Being Said, Val Is Sad For the Russian People
Even though he feels like Russia is entirely in the wrong here, he doesn’t lay the blame with the Russian people. Instead, he just feels sadness for them because this invasion is undoing all of the progress Russia has made in the last two decades.
My sadness is absolutely with the Ukrainian people, absolutely. But it’s also with the Russian people because unfortunately, these actions are setting that country back and isolating that country and it’s gonna be a long time, with the sanctions and everything … there’s been a lot of work that was done in the last 20 years that finally assimilated Russian culture and tradition into the fabric of the world.
There’s a lot of incredible human resources [in Russia], lot of incredible talent there, lot of amazing people and this, unfortunately, is a huge leap back. It’s not a step back, it’s a leap back for Russia and in the most obvious way it is absolutely devastating to Ukraine.
Val also said that “on the flip side,” it is a “beautiful thing” to see the whole world rallying behind Ukraine. His family’s non-profit, Baranova27, named for their address in Odessa, Ukraine, where Val and his brother Maksim Chmerkovskiy grew up, has raised so much money and gotten so many supplies donated to them to help the Ukrainian people and he says it is heartwarming to see people of all races willing to help a war that is so far away.
“It’s much more difficult to take the time and take your hard-earned dollar and donate it or take your time and volunteer or donate a piece of clothing or rally behind a cause and a country that is very, very far away from you and doesn’t affect you immediately. It’s a beautiful thing,” said Val.
Val Praised the Ukrainian President
As Val explained on the podcast, Zelensky was an actor who got into politics and suddenly found himself in the middle of a pandemic and fighting a war with Russia and he thinks Zelensky is doing a great job. Plus, he says it has come “full circle” for him since Zelensky competed on (and won) the Ukrainian version of “Dancing With the Stars.”
“He was a celebrity in Ukraine and in Russia. He was celebrated … he was a very well-respected artist and in 2006 he actually competed in the Ukrainian ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and won, just a kind of full-circle moment to get a little attachment to the guy. He’s a fellow ‘Dancing With the Stars’ alumni,” said Val.
But he is also worried about Zelensky, who has chosen to stay in Ukraine and fight instead of fleeing the country.
“Hopefully, he doesn’t become a martyr,” said Val. “That’s the thing is that we celebrate people after they die. We hold them up and we celebrate them. Hopefully, he lives to get a chance to lead this country in a peaceful time and lead it in the right direction.”
But Val loves the fortitude of the Ukrainian people, saying this is a perfect example of the phrase “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
And Val finished by saying that hopefully, the people in Ukraine know that “we’re all behind them and we’re going to continue to support them as long as they need us.”
If you’d like to help the people of Ukraine, you can donate to Bethenny Frankel’s BStrong organization, which has raised $6 million and counting for Ukraine. Or you can donate money or supplies to Maks, Valentin and their father Aleksandr’s efforts, or click here for a list of other charities that are sending aid and supplies.
“Dancing With the Stars” has not yet been renewed for season 31. If it is renewed, it will return in September 2022.