The Russian Shuttle Buran

I have seen pictures of this in the past, however it just is hard to believe that the Russians almost had a working shuttle. Not for any cold war fears, but seeing this thing seems like I am peering into an alternate reality or something.

Shuttle Buran – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Soviet reusable spacecraft program Buran (“Бура́н” meaning “snowstorm” or “blizzard” in Russian) began in 1976 at TsAGI as a response to the United States Space Shuttle program. Soviet politicians were convinced that the Space Shuttle would be an effective military weapon since the DoD took part in the project, and could pose a potential threat to the balance of power during the Cold War. The project was the largest and the most expensive in the history of Soviet space exploration.