Mykhailo Podoliak, the Ukrainian official who led his country’s negotiations with Russia in Istanbul only days ago, uploaded a photo on social media in which he is with Haluk Bayraktar, the CEO of the Turkish drone manufacturing company Baykar.
His brother, Selçuk Bayraktar, is the chief technical officer of the Turkish company and also the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Capital reported.
Bayraktar has written in the past that he is one of the few people who benefited from Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program.
It now appears the company is benefiting from the war in Ukraine as a new Ankara-Kiev drone deal was recently announced.
Podoliak first posted a photo of the two men in a bar, then deleted it and replaced it with a photo of him and Bayraktar on a balcony overlooking the sea in Istanbul, Turkish media reported.
The photos were taken early Tuesday night at the Galataport facility next to the Bosporus Bridge in central Istanbul.
Baykar began selling drones to Ukraine in 2019.
Ukrainian officials attending Tuesday’s meeting with Russian negotiators remained in Turkey for talks on military co-operation with the government, the Daily Sabah reported on Wednesday.
Erdoğan is seeking to use his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin to mediate an end to the war.
At the same time, he refused to impose sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and his government welcomes Russian oligarchs in the country.
“Russian armoury burns perfectly in our beautiful fields. And it will continue to burn, as the Bayraktar performs perfectly every task – scary, destructive,” Podoliak said in the caption accompanying the photo. “I will always be grateful to the creator and father of the super-weapon. For our victory.”
Some have questioned whether Podoliak was asked to delete the original photo because of the Bayraktar’s conservative background and close ties to Erdoğan, according to opposition media, as it would be a blow to the president’s Islamist profile since he was in a bar.