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Maksim Chmerkovskiy returned to Europe amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to help those in need.
The ‘Dancing with the Stars’ pro went live on Instagram on Sunday from Poland’s capital, Warsaw, and told followers he was ‘fine’ and ‘enjoying some of the Los Angeles weather’ after his return from Ukraine at the beginning of the month.
“I saw my family, saw my friends, obviously spent time [with them]“, the 42-year-old said. “And we worked. We have been working on concrete opportunities to help.”
Chmerkovskiy introduced Baranova27, a Ukrainian humanitarian aid charity. It was named after the address where Chmerkovskiy, along with his brother Val and their father, were born in Odessa, Ukraine.
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Since GoFundMe launched on March 10, it has raised over $141,000. All proceeds “will be donated to our efforts to help Ukraine,” he noted.
Chmerkovskiy said the ongoing conflict “has not ended or slowed down – it has escalated in Ukraine.”
“I want everyone to understand what this means because everything that happened happened quickly,” he explained. “It was traumatic and it was all over the world and everything. But right now it’s getting worse. The humanitarian crisis is getting worse. People are getting more and more injured, there are more people injured and more people affected.”
Chmerkovskiy also explained how Poland is affected by the devastating situation.
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“These cities are running out of space,” he said. “It’s a real problem. A few cities have already announced that they can no longer accept refugees. Currently, where I am, in Warsaw, right in the city center, everywhere you go, it’s Ukrainian. Everything the world is a refugee.”
A spokesperson for Chmerkovskiy confirmed to Fox News Digital that the star is in Poland.
Earlier this month, a source close to Chmerkovskiy also revealed to Fox News Digital that the star plans to return to Europe and is “working to help with refugee assistance efforts along the border.”
Chmerkovskiy admitted he had “survivor’s remorse”.
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“I’ve spent the past two days with survivor’s remorse, and I’m currently working on an opportunity to turn back the clock,” he said in an interview with CNN. “Probably next week I’ll go back to Poland and join the efforts on the pitch. I kind of want to justify my safe that way.”
During his interview, Chmerkovskiy spoke about the war between Russia and Ukraine and his experience in the war-torn country days before his departure.
“It wasn’t really a decision to leave. It was more like being told I had to leave,” he explained. “The Ukrainian people, in general, were waiting for this conflict. They were prepared. It took eight years and that was the general feeling since I started [working] in Ukraine in September last year.”
Chmerkovskiy went on to say that he was “consulting on a few TV shows and dance-related projects.”
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“All this time, the feeling was that something was looming,” he recalls. “I was told all the time, ‘If something happens, we’ll get you out. You’ll be the first to leave the country.'”
“When it all happened, it happened suddenly,” he added. “And that morning — I was literally driving to film and at 5 a.m. — someone was bombarding my phone saying, ‘You have to go now. “”
Chmerkovskiy explained that as he boarded a train for Poland, he “fought that inner feeling.”
“I felt really bad going there, and the feeling got even worse because when I got to the station, I realized there were only women and children there,” said Chmerkovskiy. “I’m too tall and taking up space so I got in between the trains. I literally left the area where people would have all been and that’s the footage that was shown.”
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“Internally, I justified my space because I was on the outside,” he continued. “It was not a livable situation because it was too cold, so I was walking around in this space, I was going in, I was thawing out and I was going back outside, so I helped a lot with their needs and their bags and everything. that. Just understanding that I’m not just taking up space.”
Chmerkovskiy has American citizenship. The professional ballroom dancer admitted he had mental difficulties.
Russia launched a full-scale invasion into Ukraine on February 24. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the attack a “special military mission”. The invasion drew worldwide condemnation. Hundreds of people have already been killed or injured, including children. Millions of people have fled or attempted to flee the country.
Fox News’ Janelle Ash, Julius Young and Associated Press contributed to this report.