Russians are showering the defence ministry with ideas, relishing the online contest announced by President Vladimir Putin in his state of the nation address on Thursday.

Many of the entries on Friday reflected a certain wry dark humour. 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 – 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 music instrument tapped into a long Russian tradition of giving innocuous names to some of the deadliest weapons.

Russian diplomats have sought to spread the contest beyond Russia’s borders, with the Russian embassy in Washington tweeting a link to the defence ministry’s website.

Speaking on Friday at a public forum in Kaliningrad, Putin again boasted about the new weapons, saying the still-anonymous underwater drone, the nuclear-powered cruise missile and the intercontinental hypersonic strike vehicle called Avangard bordered on science fiction.

As the weapon name contest goes on, Russian officials and lawmakers insist Putin’s speech wasn’t an announcement of a new arms race but a warning to Washington to treat Russia as an equal.

“Russia has no intention of entering an arms race,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday, adding that the weapons aimed to maintain a “strategic parity, which is essential for maintaining peace and stability”.

The Pentagon on Thursday dismissed Putin’s statements, saying America’s missile defences were ready to protect the nation but were not directed at Russia.


If you would like a chance to name Russia’s new nuclear weapons, feel free to comment on this article on our website, Twitter and Facebook, and The English Channel will make sure the names reach Putin.


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