'DWTS’ Star Maksim Chmerkovskiy on His Harrowing 31-Hour Escape From Ukraine

Maks Chmerkovskiy was able to leave Ukraine because he is an American citizen and holds a U.S. passport.

Among the many scrambling to escape war-torn Kyiv was Ukrainian-born “Dancing with the Stars” choreographer Maksim Chmerkovskiy. The dancer, who was born in Odessa but immigrated to Brooklyn, New York, in 1994, was in Ukraine when Russia invaded.  

With nothing more than a backpack, the dancer documented his harrowing journey out of the country.

“Hundreds of women and children are crammed into every train…Walkways are packed. People everywhere. It's sweaty and claustrophobic,” Chmerkovskiy wrote.

Men between the ages of 18 and 60 were forbidden to leave, but Chmerkovskiy was able to leave because he is an American citizen and holds a U.S. passport.

“I’m at a station about 30 minutes before the border with Poland,” Chmerkovskiy said when his train broke down close to the border.

He finally made it to Poland in the early hours of Tuesday after 31 hours of no sleep.

Thousands are arriving every day, desperate to flee the Russian bombardment. 

The European Union on Tuesday estimated that up to four million people may try to leave Ukraine because of the Russian invasion. More than 670,000 people have crossed into countries bordering Ukraine, including Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Moldova, the UN said. 

The UN has estimated there are at least 160,000 people in Ukraine who have fled the war and are displaced within their own country, but the EU said that number could reach seven million, and that 18 million Ukrainians will be affected by the war.

"Even though these are very rough estimates," European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic told the BBC. "The figures are huge, and we have to prepare for this kind of emergency, which is of historical proportions."

Related Stories