Strictly Come Dancing's Nikita Kuzmin Details 'Brave' Grandmother's Escape From Ukraine

“On the border she had to walk five miles, she hadn’t walked until last year."
Nikita Kuzmin
Nikita Kuzmin

Strictly Come Dancing professional Nikita Kuzmin has detailed his “brave” grandmother’s escape from Ukraine amid the war.

The dancer, who was born in Ukraine before moving to Italy aged nine, previously travelled to Poland to be reunited with his grandmother, who had travelled from Kyiv to make it over the border to escape the Russian invasion.

During an appearance on The One Show on Monday, Nikita spoke about her journey, revealing: “We didn’t know if she would manage on the way from Kyiv to Poland. On the streets in which the bus passes, you don’t know if the Russian troops are going to shoot the bus and we were all the time anxious, there were two strike points.

“On the border she had to walk five miles, she hadn’t walked until last year. She had an operation.

“This is when your instincts kick in and she managed to do all of it and she surprised us. She’s just so brave and I just love her so much.”

He added: “We were in Prague with my grandmother and there were Ukrainian flags hanging everywhere and I could just see from the mirror of the car she was sitting in the back and she was smiling so much because you could really feel welcome.”

Nikita, who previously shared photos of their emotional reunion and footage from a train station in Krakow where many others who had fled were arriving, said seeing other families suffering was “heartbreaking”.

He also said that all his childhood friends, people he has done dance training with and had competed against “are all right now defending the country from invasion”.

“It is exactly when it hits you home when you start to see the streets in which you have been walking which you grew up, where all your childhood was, right now being destroyed, bombed and it is honestly just heart-breaking and I’m just praying for the best,” Nikita told hosts Emma Willis and Jermaine Jenas.

“I still have my grandparents in Kyiv, my aunt, for the moment they are safe but obviously we are just trying to call them everyday and hope that they answer.

“Every day you just hope for the best.”

Nikita – who debuted on Strictly last year, where he partnered Tilly Ramsay – said he can “just feel the love and the appreciation from all over the world” for the Ukrainian people

“It is honestly in those terrible times it is one of the things which keeps you going,” he said. “I think all Ukrainian people feel the support from the whole world.”

The One Show airs weekdays at 7pm on BBC One.


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