Maks Chmerkovskiy Planning a Return to Europe amid War in Ukraine to 'Join Efforts on the Ground'

"I spent the last couple of days with survivor's remorse, and I'm currently working on an opportunity to go back... sort of want to justify my safe out that way," Maks Chmerkovskiy said

It's been less than a week since Maksim Chmerkovskiy safely escaped Ukraine and made it back to the U.S. — but the former Dancing With the Stars pro is already planning his return.

In a recent interview with CNN, Chmerkovskiy, 42, revealed to host Anderson Cooper that he wants to go back to Eastern Europe so that he can help Ukrainians in need.

"I spent the last couple of days with survivor's remorse, and I'm currently working on an opportunity to go back," he said during an on-air interview. "Probably sometime next week I'm going to go back to Poland and join efforts on the ground. Sort of want to justify my safe out that way."

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At this time, it is unclear exactly when and where Chmerkovskiy plans to return. A rep for the Ukrainian-born dancer had no comment when reached by PEOPLE.

During the CNN interview, Chmerkovskiy also spoke in detail about being in Ukraine amid the Russian invasion and his days-long escape.

"It wasn't really a decision to leave, it was more like I got told that I have to go," he explained. "The Ukrainian people, in general, they were waiting for this conflict. They were prepared. It was eight years in the making and that was the whole general feeling since I started [working] in Ukraine in September of last year."

Continuing, Chmerkovskiy noted how he's been "consulting on a couple of TV shows and dance-related projects," including his gig as a judge on Ukraine's World of Dance series.

Maks Chmerkovskiy
Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Michael Loccisano/Getty

"The entire time, the feeling was that something is looming," he recalled. "All the time I was being told, 'If something happens, we'll take you out. You'll be the first to move out of the country.' "

"When everything happened, it happened suddenly," he added. "And that morning, I was literally driving to film and at 5 a.m., someone was bombarding my phone saying, 'You have to go now.' "

Chmerkovskiy explained how he ended up getting "stuck for the next five days," during which he documented his experience on social media. On his final day in the country, he said he received multiple phone calls from military personnel he had recently met, all relaying the same message. "'You have to go, things are about to get crazy. You are an American citizen, you have to leave the country,' " Chmerkovskiy recalled.

Though men in the age range of 18-60 had reportedly been prohibited from leaving the country under a mobilization order, Chmerkovskiy was ultimately able to escape Ukraine because of his American citizenship.

Despite his efforts to organize local initiatives from his phone, Chmerkovskiy said he "still sort of fought that internal feeling" while boarding the train to Poland on Monday.

"I felt really bad going, and the feeling sunk in even worse because when I got to the train station, I realized it was all women and children," Chmerkovskiy said on CNN. "I was too big and I'm taking up space, so I had put myself between trains. I literally moved out of the area where people would've all been and that's the footage that was shown."

Maks Chmerkovskiy
Maks Chmerkovskiy. Rachel Murray/Getty

"Internally, I justified my space 'cause I was outside," he continued. "It wasn't a livable situation because it was too freezing so I would pace around in that space, come in, thaw out and then go back outside, so I helped a lot with their needs and bags and that stuff. Just to understand that I'm not just taking up space."

Chmerkovskiy began the final leg of his escape last Tuesday and confirmed that he was on his way back to the U.S. in an Instagram video from a Polish airport. Upon arriving at Los Angeles International Airport last Wednesday, Chmerkovskiy shared an emotional reunion with his wife, Peta Murgatroyd.

The professional dancer previously opened up about feeling "guilty" for escaping as others stay back to fight the Russian forces in an interview with Good Morning America on Friday.

"I feel bad. I feel ashamed. I feel upset," Chmerkovskiy said at the time, later adding, "I'm still in a very much in that fight-or-flight [mode]. I'm a big boy, but I know for a fact that I'm going through something mentally ... because I get into these cry moments. I'm emotional, I can't control it."

"I cried from the airport," he added, "I felt embarrassed ... the entire ride back cause I was the only man on the train amongst all women and children."

Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Maksim Chmerkovskiy and wife Peta Murgatroyd at LAX. splash news

Russia's attack on Ukraine continues after President Vladimir Putin and his forces launched a large-scale invasion on Feb. 24 — the first major land conflict in Europe in decades. Details of the fighting change by the day, but hundreds of civilians have already been reported dead or wounded, including children. More than a million Ukrainians have also fled, the United Nations said.

The invasion has drawn condemnation around the world and increasingly severe economic sanctions against Russia. With NATO forces massing in the region around Ukraine, various countries have also pledged aid or military support to the resistance.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for peace talks — so far unsuccessful — while urging his country to fight back. "Nobody is going to break us, we're strong, we're Ukrainians," he told the European Union in a speech in the early days of the fighting, adding, "Life will win over death. And light will win over darkness."

The Russian attack on Ukraine is an evolving story, with information changing quickly. Follow PEOPLE's complete coverage of the war here, including stories from citizens on the ground and ways to help.

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