I have in the past featured a number of posts covering intercepts between Russian and U.S. or NATO aircraft (1, 2, 3, and 4). With that in mind, I enjoyed the following, from an article by AP reporter David Nowak regarding an early-August tour he took of the Russian Engels air base (here, and background here).
The pilots, the more senior of whom earn only about $800 per month, appeared genuinely content and particularly excited about the mid-air camaraderie when U.S., Norwegian and British fighters approach.
Stekachyov said he usually gives them a thumbs-up.
“In the air we meet like colleagues,” he said. “It’s really nice to socialize with our foreign counterparts. It’s not like some make it out to be. There are always nice gestures and smiles.”
Hat tip: Ares (of course, which notes, regarding the nice gestures, “We’ll see how long that lasts.”)
P.S. Back in the day, Russians were freer with nice gestures and smiles, like this: