In social media posts shared on Thursday, the former Dancing With the Stars pro, who grew up in Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union, spoke out from the capital of Kyiv amid Russia's invasion of the country. The ballroom dancer has been filming as a judge for the upcoming season of Ukraine's World of Dance.
"This is definitely not the time where I would normally would be posting anything on social media," he told viewers in a video filmed from a balcony as sirens sounded and military vehicles drove by below him.
"I trust my sources and no one saw this coming," he said before clarifying, "Not that no one saw this coming, but everyone was hoping that the finality of the situation would be averted."
The 42-year-old performer fought back tears as he told viewers, "I want to go back home and I realize that I have the way to, I realize that I have a different passport and my family is far away." The dancer is married to fellow Dancing With the Stars pro Peta Murgatroyd and the couple share 5-year-old son Shai, both of whom appear to currently be in the United States.
Meanwhile, Chmerkovskiy acknowledged, his friends' relatives in Ukraine "can't just escape." While addressing any Russians watching, Chmerkovskiy said, "I am not at this point someone who is pleading for someone else's safety from a far distance, from a safe distance. I'm somebody who's about to go into a bomb shelter because s**t's going down."
His voice breaking, he encouraged Russians to "get up and actually say something because no one’s opinion is being heard."
"I think that in 2022 civilized world, Chmerkovskiy said, "this is not the way we do things."
While at a loss for words, uneasy and scared, Chmerkovskiy made it clear he does not think Russia's actions are right and acknowledged that he still has a way out of Ukraine while others do not. Defending the country, Chmerkovskiy said what Ukraine stands for is "completely not what it’s being portrayed to the Russian people in order to justify this invasion."
Later on, the star took to his Instagram Story to quell viewers' concerns, confirming that he is "safe" and has options. "I'm packed. I'm ready. My hotel has a bomb shelter," he said. "We can go there now, but a few of us decided to maybe wait until we hear the sirens and then I’ll be down there."
Meanwhile, Murgatroyd asked fans to pray for Ukraine and for her husband to have a "swift, safe exit" and return home soon. "I don’t usually ask these things from my social media network, however today is extremely hard and the next few will be even harder," her Instagram post read. "My pain is overwhelming and I’m struggling, but you sending your positive light and love to him would mean the world to me. Truly, I wish for nothing more."
The experience has conjured personal memories for Chmerkovskiy, who told fans that he is getting "old feelings back" amid Russia's military action. "I will never be the same. This is stressful and I’m getting old feelings back, like I’ve done this before. This does feel like the way it was when and why we left in the 90s. Like my old PTSD I’ve finally fixed is coming back," he wrote in an Instagram caption. "I literally only just forgot about those 'always on the edge' feelings and actually started worrying about things like BBQ grills. I’m crying as I’m typing this because all man deserves to worry about 'BBQ grills' and not f**king war. Hug your loved ones."
"There’s ALWAYS another way!" he wrote. "WAR is NEVER an answer! #standwithukraine."