In just one day, the suggestions have been pouring in: "Kraken" for a new underwater drone capable of blasting coastlines with a powerful nuclear explosion. "Balalaika" for a futuristic nuclear-powered cruise missile capable of circling the globe. Russians are showering the Defense Ministry with proposed names for the country's new nuclear weapons, relishing the online contest announced by President Vladimir Putin in his state-of-the-nation address Thursday, the AP reports. Many of the entries Friday reflected the wry dark humor Russians are known for. Someone suggested calling the missile "Sanction," an apparent reference to Western economic sanctions against Russia for its support of separatists in Ukraine.
The kraken—a fictional gigantic Arctic sea monster that was made popular by the "Pirates of the Caribbean" film series—seemed to reflect the nature of the nuclear-powered drone intended to sneak close to the shore unnoticed and slam a heavy nuclear warhead into the coast. And naming the stealth atomic-powered cruise missile after a Russian folk musical instrument tapped into a long Russian tradition of giving innocuous names to some of the deadliest weapons. There were quite a few four-letter entries as well. As the weapon name contest went on, Russian officials and lawmakers insisted that Putin's speech wasn't an announcement of a new arms race but a warning to Washington to treat Russia as an equal partner.
(Read more Vladimir Putin