Sorry for the delay, but I have an answer from AWS Support now. Not what I expected at all - restoring via CLI actually works!
I've just restored an old Postgres 9.3.5 snapshot successfully using:
aws rds restore-db-instance-from-db-snapshot
Mine immediately auto-upgraded to 9.3.25 which right now is still in progress. It may auto-upgrade straight away all the way to v12, or that might happen later if I don't upgrade manually to something else. Note sure yet.
Hi, you can upgrade the engine version of your snapshot - https://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonRDS/latest/UserGuide/USER_UpgradeDBSnapshot.PostgreSQL.html.
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