Maksim Chmerkovskiy said on an Instagram Live video that it “felt wrong” leaving Ukraine.
The dancer was one of many who have fled the country since Russia invaded last week.
Chmerkovskiy said he had “mixed emotions” leaving behind friends and his home country.
“Dancing with the Stars” alum Maksim “Maks” Chmerkovskiy said he felt guilty about leaving Ukraine amid the Russian invasion on an Instagram Live video.
Last week, Chmerkovskiy was in Kyiv when Putin authorized a full-scale attack and has been posting updates on Instagram about what’s going on in the country. On Tuesday, he revealed via his Instagram Story that he had made it out of the country via a train to Warsaw, Poland, and said the experience was “TRAUMATIZING.”
On an Instagram Live video, which was later posted on his page, Chmerkovskiy told the audience more about the train journey. The dancer said he had been awake for 36 hours and did not sleep on the train because there was no place to lay down.
“I had fucking claustrophobia at one point,” He said in the video. “I was constantly stretching to make sure I don’t get stiff. And I stood because I felt wrong leaving. I felt wrong being on that train. I still feel guilty being on that train.”
A post shared by Maksim Chmerkovskiy (@maksimc)
Chmerkovskiy said he went to the back of the train to make sure he wasn’t taking up space for women and children.
He also said that leaving Ukraine was hard because he had just “reconnected” with his native country when shooting a Ukrainian version of “Dancing with the Stars” last year. His family had moved to America in 1994. He compared the experience to being adopted, finding your birth parent, and then being separated again.
“I thought about it, my guilt,” He said. “I started to think about this and I came up with this analogy. In ’94, I was put up for adoption and I got adopted by a beautiful, young, vibrant, exciting, forward-thinking country and I fell in love and I left Ukraine in ’94 a sad, sad person because I felt like I was getting unrooted.”
The 42-year-old choreographer continued: “I’m having a very fucking hard time leaving right now. I’m having a horrible time. I’m having very mixed emotions. I have my friends there, my friends in [the] frontline.”
Chmerkovskiy added: “I can’t hear from some of the people. I can’t get in touch with them. I don’t know if they’re dead.”
The choreographer has now boarded a plane to LA but he insisted on the video that “this isn’t over.”
After the invasion began, Chmerkovskiy said he was staying in Kyiv because he had heard that it was “not safe” to leave. However, earlier this week he said that he had been arrested in Ukraine and was now trying to get out of the country.
The Ukrainian-born dancer has also been sharing resources for those who want to help those in the country, including the aid that “The Real Housewives of New York” star Bethenny Frankel set up for those who cross the border into Poland.
Insider’s live blog of the invasion is covering developments as they happen.