DWTS alum Maksim Chmerkovskiy escapes Ukraine for Poland after 31 hours of 'no sleep'
After a days-long struggle, former Dancing With the Stars pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy has escaped from Ukraine as Vladimir Putin ramps up military attacks on the European nation.
"I'm in Poland," the 42-year-old Ukrainian-born dancer and choreographer wrote via Instagram Stories on Tuesday, after regularly chronicling his attempts to flee the war-torn country's largest city, Kyiv, since Putin began an assault against Ukraine last Thursday. Chmerkovskiy, who has American citizenship, had recently returned to his home country to host its iteration of the World of Dance series.
He said that the trip lasted for "31 hours" of "no sleep," and ended with deep appreciation for Polish citizens: "POLISH PEOPLE ARE AMAZING!" he wrote. "THANK YOU FROM THE ABSOLUTE BOTTOM OF MY HEART AND SOUL."
According to the New York Times, around 660,000 refugees have fled Ukraine since the attacks began, with more than 150,000 of those leaving since Monday. The news comes amid Russia's increased targeting of civilian areas in crowded Ukrainian cities, with a convoy of troops and tanks reportedly stretching for "40 miles to the north of Kyiv," which the publication called "a menacing presence that raised the possibility that Moscow could attempt an encirclement of the capital."
On Monday, Chmerkovskiy told his followers that he was attempting to leave the country by train in a "sweaty and claustrophobic" dash to escape in an overcrowded passenger compartment with other adults and seven children.
"Train to Lviv was not an option," he wrote on Instagram. "The situation at the train station is insane. At first it feels manageable, but it gets A LOT worse when it comes time to actually board the train. Long story but all I can say now is that I'm a big man with nothing but a backpack it's TRAUMATIZING."
In addition to Chmerkovskiy, numerous celebrities of Ukrainian and/or Russian descent have since spoken out against Putin's attacks, including Oscar-nominated actress Vera Farmiga and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Regina Spektor.
"There were, and still are, real Nazis in the world," Spektor wrote Thursday on Instagram. "But in Ukraine that are just millions of civilians being pulled into a war, and in Russia there are children being sent to fight and die for no reason other than the bottomless and horror filled 'more more more more more more more' of politicians and corporations. And it's terrifying."
Read more reactions to Putin's military assault from Ukrainian and Russian stars here.
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