This amazing photo shows fighting machines that were built as enemies, the B-52 Stratofortress and the Tu-95 Bear, along with the later Cold War era KC-10 Extender and An-124 Condor, all sitting together peacefully on the same ramp. Clearly it was shot at a time when both sides were trying to make the best of the post-Cold War era by fostering their burgeoning new friendship.

This picture, like a similar naval version we posted last October, is a sad reminder of what could have been when it comes to U.S.-Russian relations following the end of the Cold War.

Although the exact date and location of the photo remains a mystery, I would guess it was taken in the 1990s or early 2000s. The image provides a stark contrast with how these incredible flying machines, especially the B-52 and the Tu-95, are being used today.

A seemingly never-ending tit-for-tat saber rattling exercise has been underway since Putin’s reawakened Russian Bear stretched its claws into Crimea and Ukraine shortly after the 2014 Winter Olympics, with the U.S. scrambling to reassure its allies in Europe that it would stand against further Russian western expansion.

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The recent upheaval in relations between “East and West” is especially saddening as both parties could be potent partners in tackling key global issues, such as the spread of Islamic Extremism, energy exploration and the environment, and other key challenges. Instead, Putin seems to have very different plans, and is largely playing to a domestic audience that seems to have an insatiable appetite for nationalistic intrigue.

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Meanwhile, Washington seems like it doesn’t know what to do with this new Russia, or how to deal with its wily leader in an effective manner. The whole thing just seems like a dangerous mix of missed opportunity and amazingly reckless leadership, as there can be no doubt that the world would be a better place if the Tu-95s and B-52s depicted in the photo above were flying alongside each other in unity instead flying against each other in defiance and aggression all over again.

If you have any info on where and when this photo was shot, please contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.

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