Maksim Chmerkovskiy was in Ukraine filming that country’s version of Dancing with the Stars when Russia invaded the country.
While Maksim initially refused to leave because he heard it was too dangerous, one moment convinced him to get back to the United States.
Police arrested Maksim when he was out after curfew, and he realized he had gotten lucky because one of them recognized him from Dancing with the Stars.
After seeing countless Ukrainians die around him, Maksim got on a train and headed to Poland to catch a flight back home to the United States.
Maksim faces survivor’s guilt after leaving Ukraine
Maksim appeared on Good Morning America after returning to America and talked about his time in Ukraine, what was happening there, and how he got back home.
He then admitted that he has survivor’s guilt because he knows how many people are dying in Ukraine right now.
“I feel guilty. I feel bad,” Chmerkovskiy said in the interview. “I feel ashamed. I feel upset.”
Maksim got boarded on a train with women and children fleeing the country while the men remained behind to fight in the war.
“I cried from the airport. I felt embarrassed … the entire ride back cause I was the only man on the train amongst all women and children,” he continued.
However, he is an American citizen, and he wanted to get back home to his wife and child.
He also realized how dangerous it was in Ukraine.
“This is a country. And the country is on fire. You know? It was very difficult to process for me,” he said. “Because you know we’re used to [flying] out, do some stuff, experience some things and always fly back. And here I am. I’m unable to fly home.
“And that, to me, was sort of like the biggest moment of understanding, like ‘you’re in trouble.’”
Maks said he is suffering from PTSD
He also revealed that he still has PTSD symptoms from the incident.
“I’m still in a very much in that fight-or-flight [mode],” Maksim said. “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.”
Maks met up with his wife at the Los Angeles airport and shared an emotional hug.
“I just don’t want to resent peace somewhere else because of what I just saw — and that’s the reality,” he concluded.
Dancing with the Stars is on hiatus. The dancing reality competition series will return to ABC in late 2022.