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May 1, 2022-2022


NAFO Fellas



North Athlantic Fellas Organization


Russian disinformation and online manipulation


Online disinformation and propaganda should be combated.


Issue and Opponent: Ukraine has received more than 1 million tons of military equipment from NATO countries, including tanks, howitzers, and ammunition. It has also received tons of support from NAFO, the North Atlantic Fella Organization, in the form of sarcasm, ridicule, and fundraising. The group is an informal alliance of internet culture warriors, national security experts, and ordinary Twitter users weaponizing memes, viral videos, and, dog photos to push back against Russian online disinformation. They post on social media to back Ukraine and channel contributions to causes that buy equipment for soldiers. The effort has probably encouraged more than $1 million in donations, estimates one of the founders of the fellas. Over recent months, Ukraine-sympathetic internet users have come together to support Kyiv’s war effort.
Dilemma Action: Participants flood social-media platforms to mock Russia and its supporters while cheering for Ukraine, frequently turning pro-Russian commentary on its head. Whenever a NAFO fellas spot a Russian official or sympathizer posting a pro-Kremlin take on Twitter, for instance, they bombard these accounts with support for Ukraine. Images are often rough collages involving dogs clad in military gear or other clothing, superimposed onto war photos. The use of Shiba Inu as a “fella” fighting the war in Ukraine started in May 2022, when an artist named Kama began creating custom images of the “fellas” for those who donated money to the Georgian Legion, a volunteer military unit in Ukraine that took on board many foreigners. The movement went on to have a landmark moment in June 2022, when Russian diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov got into an argument with a “fella” over threats to civilians. Ulyanov, Russia’s ambassador to international organizations in Vienna and a vocal advocate for Russia’s position on social media, made the mistake of responding to a NAFO member. As the community has grown, its members started to copy online tactics straight out of the Kremlin’s disinformation playbook, sprinkling in a heavy dose of internet culture and humor to undermine Russian propaganda. Russian influencers have struggled to respond to the badly-drawn Shiba Inu memes, YouTube-style viral videos, and the power of ordinary social media users debunking Kremlin talking points. Even answering a Twitter account whose avatar is a “doge” can make a Russian diplomat look foolish.
Outcome: As of August 2022, there were, on an average day, more than 5,000 Twitter posts linked to NAFO versus a mere handful in May. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry shared on social media one of the pictures used by NAFO, thanking them for fighting Russian propaganda and trolls. For Kama and other fellas in parts of Europe once dominated by the Soviet Union, NAFO channels a Cold War tradition of mockery that for many people was the sole form of defense against repression. Donors to NAFO-linked causes can post screenshots of their payments and request personalized avatars. NAFO now has more than 80 artist volunteers, dubbed forgers in an ironic allusion to working in the forge of a steel plant. Forgers receive about 50 requests for avatars from donors daily, and as many as 10,000 have been created so far. Military veterans say NAFO is a reminder that Moscow isn’t the disinformation juggernaut many believe it is. If the Kremlin can’t handle an unorganized mob of “doge” social media accounts, how can its propaganda machine be taken seriously?


Accountability / Corruption


Banners/posters/displayed communications


Symbolic reclamations



9 / 12

(MC) Media Coverage

(MSYMP) Media coverage was sympathetic to the activists

(OR) Opponent response

(PS) Dilemma action built sympathy with the public

(PUN) Punishment favored the activists

(REFR) Dilemma action reframed the narrative of the opponent

(RF) Dilemma action reduced fear and/or apathy among the activists

(SA) Dilemma action appealed to a broad segment of the public



3 / 3

Activist group continued working together after the action

Encouraged more participants to join the movement

Internally replicated by the same movement


Project documentation

Dilemma Actions Coding Guidebook

Case study documentation


CC BY 4.0 Deed, Attribution 4.0 International


https://s2.washingtonpost.com/camp-rw/?trackId=596b03bdae7e8a44e7d0458d&s=63102fda1930ae1d2074458f&linknum=5&linktot=75. Accessed April 15, 2022.

Gault, Matthew. 2022. “Shitposting Shiba Inu Accounts Chased a Russian Diplomat Offline.” Vice, July 12. Retrieved July 23, 2023. https://www.vice.com/en/article/y3pd5y/shitposting-shiba-inu-accounts-chased-a-russian-diplomat-offline?utm_campaign=wp_todays_worldview&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_todayworld

Scott, Mark. 2022. “The shit-posting, Twitter-trolling, dog-deploying social media army taking on Putin one meme at a time.” Politico, August 31. Retrieved July 23, 2023. https://www.politico.eu/article/nafo-doge-shiba-russia-putin-ukraine-twitter-trolling-social-media-meme/

McInnis, Kathleen, Seth G. Jones , and Emily Harding. 2022. “NAFO and Winning the Information War: Lessons Learned from Ukraine.” Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 5. Retrieved July 23, 2023. https://www.csis.org/analysis/nafo-and-winning-information-war-lessons-learned-ukraine

Michaels, Daniel. 2022. “Ukraine’s Internet Army of ‘NAFO Fellas’ Fights Russian Trolls and Rewards Donors With Dogs.” The Wall Street Journal, September 27. Retrieved July 23, 2023. https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraines-internet-army-of-nafo-fellas-fights-russian-trolls-and-rewards-donors-with-dogs-11664271002

Braun, Stuart. 2022. “Ukraine’s info warriors battling Russian trolls.” DW, September 17. Retrieved July 23, 2023. https://www.dw.com/en/nafo-ukraines-info-warriors-battling-russian-trolls/a-63124443

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