You are spot on. I wrote my master's thesis in Slavic Studies on some of these issues in Russian aviation, and I think some of the sections I wrote on Aeroflot flight 593 are relevant to your comment:
"The five Airbus A310s operating
for ARIA were the first Western aircraft to fly for a Russian airline after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and represented the vanguard of Russia’s attempt to present a modern face to the world by means of its flagship airline. The A310 operation was explicitly framed as Russia’s Western-facing façade, with service, comfort, and reliability designed to match the expectations of Western consumers, who would step off the new planes with the impression that Aeroflot was no longer a sprawling, backward airline filled with clunky old jets and uncomfortable seats—even though the vast majority of their fleet at the time was still exactly that. Ridership on the A310 routes was not particularly high—in fact, the flight that would later crash was less than one third full—but that was secondary to what the A310s represented.
In this way, both the ANT-20 Maksim Gorky and Aeroflot’s first Airbus were conceived from the beginning as messages to the West, employing what Palmer terms “compensatory symbolism” to prove the modernity of Russian aviation—whether modernity meant size, range, comfort, or safety—and both fell victim to the belief on the part of their caretakers that the mere presence of the airplane made that modernity manifest. As the biplane pilot embarked on his ill-advised loop around the lumbering giant and the Airbus pilot let his son sit at the controls of a brand new jet, they were both consumed by the opportunity to demonstrate this modernity and failed to appreciate that behind it lurked the same laws of physics that have haunted aviators since the dawn of powered flight."