Longtime Dancing With the Stars professional dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy posted two tearful videos from Kyiv, Ukraine, on Thursday, pleading for peace as sirens wail in the background. in what it termed a "special military operation."
Chmerkovskiy was born in what was then Soviet Ukraine in 1980. His family immigrated to Brooklyn, New York, in 1994, and he began competing as a professional dancer, joining the dance competition show in its second season in 2006 and partnering with various celebrities until leaving the show in 2018. He won the show's coveted mirror ball trophy in 2014 when paired with Olympic ice dancer Meryl Davis.
In the first video, Chmerkovskiy talks about how he found himself back in his homeland not thinking the invasion would happen while he was there.
"This does feel like the way it was when and why we left in the '90s," he wrote in the video caption. "Like my old PTSD I've finally fixed is coming back. 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 fucking war. Hug your loved ones."
Chmerkovskiy also shared video of what appear to be two families dragging suitcases behind them and carrying their children.
In a second video, the dancer showed an olive green truck racing down the street in front of the balcony where he's standing, saying, "There's the reality. That's military, that's center of Kyiv."
Saying he usually doesn't reveal his emotions, Chmerkovskiy said, "I want to go back home." He is married to New Zealand-born, Australia-raised dancer Peta Murgatroyd, and they live in the US with their 5-year-old son, Shai.
He added that he's luckier than his Ukrainian friends, saying, "I have a passport and a way out. A lot of people here do not."
Chmerkovskiy pleaded with ordinary Russians to stand up and be heard, saying the invasion was all "one man's ambition," and noting that he was about to head into a bomb shelter.
"There's ALWAYS another way!" Chmerkovskiy posted. "WAR is NEVER an answer!"