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> They just have a very interesting distribution of technological prowess.
Russians never lacked technology as such. Entire Eastern Bloc had tons of great innovators, engineers, scientists. The problem was always introducing it to mass production. It looked kind of like that: scientists modeled something, engineers made a design and created manufacturing process, but than shit hit the fan because that manufacturing process was bestowed upon government-controlled company. That company was controlled by people disconnected from reality (literally: central government didn’t know what the hell is happening besides their circle, mid-level management tried to appease central and didn’t listen to low-level management at all), and staffed by workers that didn’t care (especially about quality: quantity was important, beating the assigned quota could grant you nice perks in some eras, in other there was literally no premium on neither quality nor quantity). In the end nobody was really responsible, if something wrong happened it was in the best interest of management to hide the issues and so on.
That’s TL/DR kind of summary though. The problem with Soviet system, and it’s derivatives in satellite states, was extremely complex and there are literally books trying to explain it.