Peta Murgatroyd Pleads for Husband Maks Chmerkovskiy's Safe Return as He Remains in Ukraine amid Invasion

Maks Chmerkovskiy and Peta Murgatroyd, who wed in 2017, share 5-year-old son Shai

Peta Murgatroyd is asking for prayers and well wishes for her husband Maks Chmerkovskiy, who continues to share updates on social media followers about the rapidly unfolding Russian invasion in Ukraine.

"Please pray for my husband Maks. I don't usually ask these things from my social media network, however today is extremely hard and the next few will be even harder," the Dancing with the Stars pro, 35, shared on Instagram Thursday.

Chmerkovskiy, 42, and Murgatroyd wed in 2017. The couple share 5-year-old son Shai.

"My pain is overwhelming and I'm struggling, but you sending your positive light and love to him would mean the world to me. Truly, I wish for nothing more," the mother of one continued in her message to fans and followers.

"Many of you are asking for details and I don't have the answers, but yes, he is safe right now. Please pray that he comes home soon. Please pray that he has a swift, safe exit," Murgatroyd wrote. "I have FAITH. I have HOPE and I have PRAYED so hard."

Peta Murgatroyd

The dancer concluded, "Please pray for Ukraine and the innocent civilians who's [sic] lives are being greatly uprooted. I grew to love this country the couple of times I visited and they're in an unfathomable situation."

Her husband responded in her comments section with a teary-eyed emoji and a red heart emoji.

Murgatroyd's post comes amid the invasion in Ukraine, which began shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" in the Donbas area of the country.

The location is a separatist region which Putin, 69, said this week should be independent — a move rejected by the U.S. and Ukraine.

In a televised address, Putin said the operation is to "demilitarize" Ukraine and that Ukrainian servicemen who put down their arms will be able to safely leave the combat zone, per the Associated Press.

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He also issued a warning to anyone who tried to intervene, saying they "must know that Russia's answer will be immediate, and will lead to such consequences as you never experienced in your history," according to The New York Times.

With Russia's invasion now fully underway, Ukrainian officials said forces were crossing from the north, south and east in a still-evolving attack. The first explosions were reportedly heard around 5 a.m. Thursday and airstrikes have since occurred in multiple cities, including Kharkiv, Kramatorsk and the capital of Kyiv, the Associated Press reported.

Ukrainian officials said at least 57 people had been killed already with several injuries in what Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called a "full-scale" invasion of the country, according to the AP and other reports.

RELATED VIDEO: Maks Chmerkovskiy Posts Tearful Clips from Kyiv as Russia Invades Ukraine: 'I Want to Go Back Home'

Previously, on Thursday morning, Chmerkovskiy shared his "emotional" experience from near the center of Kyiv in a post on Instagram. There, he could be seen standing on a balcony in the country's capital as military sirens could be heard from the streets below.

"I'm in Kyiv, contrary to what I probably should've done a while ago … and not that no one saw this coming, but everybody was hoping that the finality of this situation would be averted, that there wasn't going to be these kind of aggressive measures," the Ukrainian-born dancer said of the Russian invasion.

In a second video, the Dancing with the Stars alum is seen tearing up as he pans the camera to show the "reality" of the situation and the nearby city center, saying "it's been a little difficult" to witness the fallout and adding, "You know me — I stay strong, and I don't show it."

Maks Chmerkovskiy
Maks Chmerkovskiy. Maks Chmerkovskiy/ instagram

"But I want to go back home. And I realize that I have the way to — I realize that I have a different passport, and my family is far away," continued Maks.

He also shared how much he loves his home country, explaining, "I have [had] a f---ing incredible pleasure to spend, on the ground, about six months now, and I've fell back in love — I never fell out of love, but I know now who these people are. I know who this country is, what it represents, what it stands for. And it's completely not what is being portrayed to the Russian people in order to justify this invasion."

Later in the day, he posted another update and shared more videos in which he was seen standing outside at night.

"The main thing is that I'm safe. But like I said, a lot of people are not, and this is very, very, very real, what's happening now," he said. "I'm packed, I'm ready, my hotel has a bomb shelter. We can go there now, but the few of us decided to maybe wait until we hear the sirens and then we'll be down there. I'm going to try and keep you guys updated and show you what it's really like, but the reality is it's exactly what it looks like on TV."

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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