While working in his native country, Ukraine, Dancing With the Stars professional Maksim Chmerkovskiy witnessed the start of the war Russia forced on Ukraine. For days, Maks sought shelter in makeshift bomb shelters as air raid sirens alarmed in the distance.
However, earlier this week, Maksim was given an opportunity many other Ukrainians can not afford. He was given an escape route out of Ukraine and back home to his family in Los Angeles, California.
Now, safely back with his wife and son, Maksim sat down with Good Morning America to discuss what he went through. However, Maksim admits he is struggling with guilt now that he is home.
Maksim Chmerkovskiy Admits He Was ‘Embarrassed’ on Train From Ukraine to Poland as He Safely Made His Way Back to America
“I feel guilty. I feel bad,” Chmerkovskiy told GMA. “I feel ashamed. I feel upset.”
As the dancer continued, he admits that his days in Ukraine left him emotionally damaged. “I’m still in a very much in that fight-or-flight [mode]. I’m a big boy, but I know for a fact that I’m going through something mentally because I get into these cry moments, I’m emotional, I can’t control it.”
Chmerkovskiy also revealed that the train he was able to take from Ukraine to Warsaw, he was the only man aboard, as far as he could tell. “I cried on the way from the airport, I felt embarrassed. I felt embarrassed the entire ride back cause I was the only man on the train amongst all women and children.”
It is not yet clear how Maks was able to get on the train and cross the border into Poland. As of recent reporting, men ages 18 to 60 are being stopped at the border and asked to stay in Ukraine to help the country defend their land from the Russian army.
It’s unclear if the fact that he is an American citizen aided him in his journey home to LA.
Maks also described the scene he saw as he arrived at the train station. “There are kids everywhere,” Maks explained. “Kids everywhere. I’m dying inside because this is still very emotional stuff for me. There are kids everywhere. Babies everywhere, it’s negative temperature.”
Sadly, the families who didn’t make it on the train that day would have to sleep in the station, which was just a building without heat.
As Mamas Uncut previously reported, during his time in Ukraine, Maks used his large social media platform to give his followers and the world a first-hand look inside a country at war. From air assaults to civilians being caught in the crossfire, the DWTS pro did not hold back.
“This was not me trying to publicize a situation, this was me trying to cry for help. I literally was just screaming out, ‘Look! This is what I just saw. I just want you to see it wherever you are.’” Maks told GMA.
“It’s surreal, to be honest,” Maks continued. “This is a country, a country’s on fire so it was very difficult to process for me because we are used to fly out, do some stuff, experience some things, and always fly back. And here I am, I’m unable to fly home. And that, for me, was the moment of understanding, ‘You’re in trouble.’”
In one of his earlier updates, from when he was still in Ukraine, Maks revealed that he was arrested. It was made clear during his interview with GMA that he was arrested for breaking curfew.
Thankfully, one of the officers recognized him for being a judge on Ukraine’s version of Dancing With the Stars. And he admits that he was lucky his “recognizable face” saved him at that moment.
However, it was also his wake-up call to get out of Ukraine.
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