NATO Europe in the 1980's had a thing called "free flight", which was a form of training that was superb. Essentially, if you were airborne, you could be attacked (or attack yourself) any NATO aircraft you encounter. So on any given day, you could get jumped by Canadian F-18's, Luftwaffe aircraft, British Harriers and Tornados, Belgians, Danes, etc. It really kept you on your toes... no lollygagging to and from the military working areas.
It's hard to describe how absolutely STUNNED we were when the Berlin wall fell, and over the months to follow, the USSR giving up the "game." We had all grown up in the cold war environment, and it was genuinely frightening. THOUSANDS of nuclear missiles poised to take flight at any moment... we'd imagine the re-entry trail, the flash, the obliteration to come. It was deadly serious and a huge relief when it calmed down in the 1990's. Unfortunately, the world didn't stay calm very long. The USA could have done a better job in the decade of the 1990's, IMO, regarding stabilization, the ME, and the post-Soviet Eastern European area. But it's water under the bridge now.
We had some cool secret programs to exploit Soviet technology. In Nevada, they had quite a few Soviet MiG and Su fighters on display, and also flying. We were allowed to sit in some of the cockpits, and I have to say, we were not impressed. We also got to fight the MiG-21 and MiG-23 aircraft. Of all that era's fighters, the MiG-21 was easily the most nimble and capable when flown by a good pilot.
All that changed with the MiG-29. We know now that in the last 20 years, the Russians have made great strides in digital weapons systems, something the USA has always led in. The technology gap is closing.
Hand in hand with that, though, is training. All of the fancy digital systems in the world are useless without adequate advanced training. It is also the style or methodology that counts... the Soviet system was GCI (radar) based, very inflexible. They realized this didn't work as well as independent operations using AWACs and on-board systems, and have since shifted over.