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Maksim Chmerkovskiy flies to Poland to aid Ukrainian refugees after being slammed as a coward -
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Dancing with the Stars alum Maksim Chmerkovskiy announced in an Instagram video that he is back in Europe, having flown to Poland to help with refugee relief efforts after he was trashed by critics for fleeing Ukraine when the Russian invasion began

Maksim Chmerkovskiy flies to Poland to aid Ukrainian refugees after being slammed as a coward

Dancing with the Stars alum Maksim Chmerkovskiy is back in Eastern Europe, having flown to Poland to help with refugee relief efforts after he was trashed by critics for fleeing his native Ukraine when the Russian invasion began.

Chmerkovskiy, 42, was in Kyiv filming World of Dance Ukraine when Putin invaded on February 24 and escaped on a train packed mainly with women and children. He returned to his California home to Malibu, where he lives with his wife and son, in early March.

On Sunday, he posted a video to Instagram from Poland detailing what was going on with him and his attempt to assist in relief efforts.

‘Hi everybody,’ he said. ‘I’m fine. I’m good. I spent some time at home. I enjoyed some of that Los Angeles weather. Saw my family, saw my friends, obviously spent some time…And we’ve been working…We’ve been working on tangible opportunities to help.’

Chmerkovskiy then announced a new charitable organization called Baranova 27, named for the address of the place where he was born in Odessa, Ukraine.

Dancing with the Stars alum Maksim Chmerkovskiy announced in an Instagram video that he is back in Europe, having flown to Poland to help with refugee relief efforts after he was trashed by critics for fleeing Ukraine when the Russian invasion began

Chmerkovskiy, 42, is best known for his work as a dancer on the ABC reality staple

Chmerkovskiy, 42, is best known for his work as a dancer on the ABC reality staple

Chmerkovskiy, 42, was in Kyiv filming World of Dance Ukraine when Putin invaded on February 24 and escaped war on a train packed with women and children and returned home to Malibu, where he lives with his wife (pictured left) and son, in early March

Chmerkovskiy, 42, was in Kyiv filming World of Dance Ukraine when Putin invaded on February 24 and escaped war on a train packed with women and children and returned home to Malibu, where he lives with his wife (pictured left) and son, in early March

Chmerkovskiy announced a new charitable organization called Baranova 27 , named for the address of the place where he was born in Odesa, Ukraine

Chmerkovskiy announced a new charitable organization called Baranova 27 , named for the address of the place where he was born in Odesa, Ukraine

Chmerkovskiy surprised many with the announcement that he'd returned to Eastern Europe from Los Angeles

Chmerkovskiy surprised many with the announcement that he’d returned to Eastern Europe from Los Angeles

‘My father and my bother, together with a lot of people that we work with all the time, that we just friends with, and with the help of whom, we’ve started our organization. And we’ve been working diligently on making Baranova 27 something that, as big as it took off, that it can continue that way.’

He said he’s also got plans to link up with Bethenny Frankel’s BStrong charity to assist with their work, before sharing that he’ll be on the ground in Poland to help distribute aid.

‘People are getting hurt worse, there are more people hurt, and there are more people effected,’ Chmerkovskiy added.

The Dancing With the Stars pro was crucified by critics for not only fleeing the region when other less-equipped volunteers have stayed behind to fight, but also for sharing his ordeal in great detail on social media and TV interviews afterwards.

The dancer – who admitted he felt ‘badly’ about the choice in early March – declined an interview with DailyMail.com but an acquaintance said he had done nothing wrong.

‘Maks is not a Ukrainian citizen, he’s an American citizen. It was not an option for him to just ‘stay and fight.’

‘The narrative of evading any duty to Ukraine is simply not accurate,’ they said.

The source added that he moved to the US as a 14-year-old refugee in 1994 and in doing so automatically renounced his citizenship. Ukraine does not recognize dual citizenship.

Maksim Chmerkovskiy is shown as a teenager with his little brother Valentin.  They moved to the US when he was 14 in 1994 as refugees and automatically lost their Ukrainian citizenship

Maksim Chmerkovskiy is shown as a teenager with his little brother Valentin. They moved to the US when he was 14 in 1994 as refugees and automatically lost their Ukrainian citizenship

Before the war broke out, Maks was flying back and forth to Kyiv to work on Ukrainian dance TV shows.  He is shown in an Instagram post before the conflict began

Before the war broke out, Maks was flying back and forth to Kyiv to work on Ukrainian dance TV shows. He is shown in an Instagram post before the conflict began

Chmerkovskiy is shown on a train from Kyiv to Poland.  He said he sat in between carriages so that he didn't take up anyone else's 'space' , but that he couldn't stay there for the entire time because it was too cold

Chmerkovskiy is shown on a train from Kyiv to Poland. He said he sat in between carriages so that he didn’t take up anyone else’s ‘space’ , but that he couldn’t stay there for the entire time because it was too cold

He told Anderson Cooper that he had been ‘bombarded by sources’ including ‘military personnel’ telling him he would be the first to be evacuated when Putin struck and that he had ‘no choice’ but to leave.

He has not given any other details about who told him to leave specifically.

Ukrainian men between 18 and 60 years old have been banned from leaving the country and President Volodymyr Zelensky has made a desperate appeal around the world for able-bodied men to join the International Legion of his Territorial Defense Army.

Chmerkovskiy had said a couple of weeks ago that he would go back to Poland to help with relief efforts. In the meantime, he was raising money online and his family in New Jersey has been raising money and packaging relief for refugees.

His brother, Valentin, another DWTS pro, and his father, Aleksandr ‘Sasha’ Chmerkovskiy, are helping with the effort.

Sasha, who runs Dance With Me USA, lives in Edgewater, New Jersey, with his wife, Larisa.

Valentin lives in California with his wife, fellow dancer Jenna Johnson.

Their grandmother lives in Brooklyn, New York, which is the first American city they settled in when they emigrated in the 1990s.

Chmerkovskiy joined DWTS in 2006, when he was 26.

Maks Chmerkovskiy with his mother Larissa, father Sasha and brother Valentin.  The family moved to the US in 1994 as refugees

Maks Chmerkovskiy with his mother Larissa, father Sasha and brother Valentin. The family moved to the US in 1994 as refugees

Maks with his son, grandmother and brother Valentin in Brooklyn.  The family moved to New York in 1994

Maks with his son, grandmother and brother Valentin in Brooklyn. The family moved to New York in 1994

His escape from the conflict was of great relief to his fans but enraged critics and people who had not watched the show, especially given how many elderly people, women and foreigners are in Ukraine, choosing to fight.

In his interview with CNN, he claimed that Ukrainians were ‘ready’ for the conflict and had been preparing for it for months. When Putin invaded, Maksim claims he was ‘told’ that he ‘had to go’.

‘I just got told that I had to go. I have to say about Ukrainian people in general, they were ready for this conflict. That was the whole general feeling.

‘All the time I was being told if something happens, ‘we’ll take you out, you’ll be the first.’

‘When everything happened, it suddenly happened. The day it happened, somebody was bombarding my phone saying ‘you have to go now.’

Maksim Chmerkovskiy with his wife Peta Murgatroyd in Malibu after he arrived back in America from Ukraine

Maksim Chmerkovskiy with his wife Peta Murgatroyd in Malibu after he arrived back in America from Ukraine

‘I started to get various calls multiple sources, military personnel saying ‘you have to go, things are about to get crazy.”

He did specify who helped him leave, or advised him to get out. Other Americans have reported not receiving any form of help from the State Department and having to find their own paths out of the conflict.

Maksim said he felt ‘really bad going’ and it became ‘even worse’ when he got to the train station in Kyiv and realized he was one of, if not the only, man on the train.

‘I realized it’s all women and children and I’m too big and I’m taking up space. I put myself in between trains. Internally, I justified my space because I was outside,’ he said, referring to his decision to sit in between the train cars for some of the trip.

He ended up going back inside because it was ‘too freezing’.

‘I helped a lot with bags and stuff, just to understand that I am not taking up space.’

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