Dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy and wife Peta Murgatroyd reunited Wednesday in...

Dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy and wife Peta Murgatroyd reunited Wednesday in Los Angeles. Credit: Getty Images / Sarah Morris

Former "Dancing with the Stars" ballroom professional Maksim Chmerkovskiy returned to Los Angeles Wednesday from an emotional trip to his native Ukraine, where his social-media dispatches from the war gave a sometimes-graphic firsthand view of civilian casualties wrought by an invading Russia.

An "Entertainment Tonight" video shows Chmerkovskiy, 42, reuniting with his wife, "DWTS" dancer Peta Murgatroyd, who wears the colors of the Ukrainian flag in her hair ribbon as she runs to him inside Los Angeles International Airport. The two hug silently for nearly a full half-minute before taking a few steps and then hugging again.

A few minutes earlier, outside his arrival gate, a shaken Chmerkovskiy had told reporters that being amid a war had made him almost begrudge countries at peace that might not fully grasp the gravity of the Russian invasion. "I just don't want to resent peace somewhere else because of what I just saw, and that's the reality. I understand how that works but I don't know really what to say right this second."

The Odessa-born Chmerkovskiy had been in Kyiv, Ukraine, to serve as a judge for that country's edition of the TV competition "World of Dance," and on Feb. 24 began posting videos that included death and destruction in civilian areas. After several days he evacuated on what he said was a 23-hour train ride to Warsaw, Poland, later telling reporters outside the LAX terminal, "I was told to get a gun. I was told to watch YouTube videos to learn how to use an AK[-47 automatic rifle]." Holding up his cellphone, he said, "I decided that this is my gun and I'm going to do my best with this."

Afterward, in an airport parking garage, he added plaintively, "The reason why Ukraine is standing right now is, No. 1, because of the Ukrainian people. No. 2, because they've [experienced] eight years [leading up to that] conflict. And they knew — it was a pressure cooker that blew up. They expected it."

He also thanked the world's nations, and neighboring Poland in particular, for their help and their continuing pressure on Russia.

With other dance professionals including his brother, "DWTS" dancer Val Chmerkovskiy, Maksim Chmerkovskiy in 2005 founded the Dance With Me chain of dance studios, opening a Glen Head location in 2007. In 2019, the studio moved to Greenvale. Additionally, Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Murgatroyd had held their lavish wedding ceremony at Oheka Castle in Huntington in July 2017, shortly after being married at the New York City Clerk's Office in Manhattan. The couple share 5-year-old son Shai Aleksander Chmerkovskiy.

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