Dog memes have raised $1m for Ukraine's military through the NAFO. Pic: @Official_NAFO/@fellarequests

Ukraine’s internet army of ‘dudes’ is using dog memes to fight Russian propaganda – and they’ve also raised $1m for the army | world news

Spread the love

It may be NATO sending missiles and tanks to Ukraine, but on social media an information war is being waged by a rowdy group of online comrades called NAFO. Meet the guys.

NAFO – or the North Atlantic Fella Organization – is on the front line in the fight against Russian propaganda and has raised $1 million for Ukrainian armies on the real-world battlefield.

They harass Russian officials on Twitter and ensure that those who tell lies about the war encounter a horde of cartoon Shiba Inu dogs mocking them.

But beyond the jokes and memes, the “guys” raised colossal sums to buy ammunition and vehicles for the Ukrainian resistance.

They have also helped keep the conflict in the global spotlight.

NAFO has grown from a Twitter user poking fun at the Russian military to a global phenomenon of thousands that counts high-profile politicians like British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and the Prime Minister of Estonia among its ranks. Kaja Kallas.

Are the guys a CIA intelligence operation? Definitely not

“I don’t like bullies, and it’s pretty clearly wrong what the Russians have been doing for a very long time,” Pete, a US Army veteran and current guy, told Sky News.

“I appreciate what the Ukrainians are doing militarily – doing more with less – and this has just been a good outlet to try to help mitigate that in any way possible.”

Pete, who preferred not to give his last name, helps run the “forge” – a group of about 100 people working around the clock to create new Shiba Inu avatars – guys – as a thank you to people who donate to Ukraine.

Twitter users post screenshots of their donations with a #fellarequest with what they want their guy to wear and all the items he should have and the forgers take it from there.

As a nod to his time in the military, Pete’s avatar wields an M249 SAW light machine gun. He also has bright green eyes.

“I added the green glow around the twentieth time we were accused of being a CIA/NATO intelligence operation. I thought it would be funnier,” he says.

Pete’s US Army-themed guy (left) and an avatar dedicated to Ukraine’s infamous HIMARS rocket system. Photo: @Official_NAFO/@fellarequests

More than a million dollars raised for the defense of Ukraine

Asked about the guys’ real impact, Pete added: “We’ve helped units get lifesaving equipment they might not otherwise have, whether it’s body armor, drones, IFAK and other first aid, or something as simple as active hearing protection.”

Much of the money raised by NAFO goes to the Georgian Legion, a foreign volunteer unit that has been fighting in Ukraine since 2014.

Estimates vary as to the amount of money raised by NAFO, but some put it at over £860,000.

An example of one of the types created by the forge.  Photo: @Official_NAFO/@fellarequests
Another guy created by the forge. Photo: @Official_NAFO/@fellarequests

Read more:
Ukraine uses consumer drones to spy on Russian front
What is a “dirty bomb” and is Russia planning to blow up the Nova Kakhovka dam?

“You uttered that nonsense. Not me’

The group is known for its combative exchanges with Russian officials, particularly diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov who broke a key internet rule by arguing with someone who was making fun of him.

Mr. Ulyanov had sought to blame the invasion of Moscow on the bombardment of Ukrainian civilians.

In response to a guy making fun of him, he tweeted, “You said that nonsense. Not me.”

Predictably, this has become a slogan for NAFO and is available on t-shirts, with proceeds going to Ukraine.

“Basically a very serious dignitary fought with goofy dogs and lost as soon as he hit send on his tweet,” NAFO founder Kamil told Sky News.

Asked about the group’s efforts to fight Russian propaganda, he replied, “Guys just do what they think is right.”

NAFO slogans and guys appear everywhere, including painted on a 2S7 Pion self-propelled gun that is in service in Ukraine.

He was duly named “Super Bonker 9,000”.

The artillery vehicle was named via SignMyRocket – a crowdfunding website that allows people to pay to have messages written about ammunition and equipment used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

A 2S7 Pion self-propelled gun named "Super Bonker 9000" with NAFO guys painted on it.  Photo: SignMyRocket
A 2S7 Pion self-propelled gun named “Super Bonker 9000” with NAFO guys painted on it. Photo: SignMyRocket

NAFO “an extremely positive movement”

NAFO co-founder Matt Moores said the group “gives anyone around the world with an interest and an internet connection a way to get involved.”

Speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies panel earlier this month, he said NAFO is “an extremely positive movement”.

He added: “I guess the power of what we’re doing is that instead of trying to step in and refute point by point and discuss what’s true and what isn’t, he comes up and says “hey, that’s stupid”.

“And then the moment someone responds to a cartoon dog online, you lose.”

Although not a military alliance like its namesake NATOthe NAFO guys respect one of the same fundamental principles: article 5.

When a member is threatened – or in the case of the guys, spots Russian propaganda on Twitter – he can tweet #article5 and other guys will come to his aid.

Ben Wallace, Secretary of Defense and MP… and a guy?

Praise for NAFO goes all the way to the top, with politicians around the world thanking them for their contributions – and being immortalized in male form.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, whose guy wears a yellow blazer and blue skirt, tweeted last month: “My regards to #NAFOfellas – you’re doing a great job fighting bad catches and Russian propaganda, and collecting funds for the defense of Ukraine.

“Hail, #Fellas.”

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace also got the NAFO treatment, pictured alongside his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov.

“A privilege! Here we go!” he tweeted.

The guys point out that NAFO expansion is non-negotiable. And with hundreds of #fellarequests coming up all the time, it seems like no one can stop them.

Special event at the Imperial War Museum on the conflict in Ukraine
Special event at the Imperial War Museum on the conflict in Ukraine

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.