Two Ukrainian sisters separated for 20 years have had an astonishing reunion when one took the other in as a war refugee after finding her on Facebook.
The half-sisters – named only as Tatiana, 25, and Angelica, 24 – were just six and five years old when they were separated after their mother died.
Tatiana was adopted by a Spanish family and left her sister behind for new life with a family in the West.
Now Angelica has joined her in Spain after fleeing the Russian military onslaught on Odesa.
They had not seen each other for 20 years before their tearful reunion.
Tatiana and Angelica were both born in Ukraine, to the same mother but to different fathers.
Their lives changed radically when their biological mother, who has not been named, died.
Tatiana was sent to boarding school in Ukraine until the age of eight, before being adopted by a Spanish family, while Angelica went to live with relatives.
Two decades later, they have been able to meet again in Spain, after Tatiana took in Angelica as a war refugee, with the younger of the two reportedly being rescued from a bunker in the south-western Ukrainian port city of Odesa.
The city has reportedly been turned into a fortress, shedding its usual, tourist-friendly allure in exchange for sandbags, anti-tank defences and roadblocks.
Angelica revealed she was able to flee the bunker she was hiding in when her sister’s adoptive family arranged help.
Tatiana had been adopted by a family in Girona, a city in Spain’s north-eastern Catalonia region, while Angelica stayed in Ukraine and went to live with an aunt and uncle.
They recently started looking for each other, reportedly shortly before Putin’s invasion, and Tatiana explained that Angelica “was looking for her sister, she believed that she could be me”.
The reportedly recognised each other thanks to a photo that was taken at a wedding when they were still very young.
Communication was said to be difficult between the two, as they spoke different languages, but this was solved thanks to the use of Google Translate, and they also made video calls so they could see each other’s faces.
After Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine, on 24th February, Tatiana tried to convince Angelica to come and join her in Spain, but the latter initially refused.
Tatiana explained: “At first she refused out of fear and because of how difficult it was to get to Poland.”
But she added that in the end, with the help of her adoptive mother, Tatiana was reportedly able to have her sister rescued from the bunker where she was hiding from the Russian bombs and brought to Spain.
After a strenuous journey, the two sisters reportedly hugged and cried, but now there is laughter again, with the two looking forward to spending their futures together.