Craig Murray: The So Far Non-Existent Vulkan Leaks

Thirty named journalists at three major papers are covering “bombshell” revelations about Russian cyberattacks in a manner worth examining.   


By Craig Murray

The GuardianThe Washington Post and Der Spiegel have today published “bombshell” revelations about Russian cyber warfare based on leaked documents, but have produced only one single, rather innocuous leaked document between them (in The Washington Post), with zero links to any.

Where are these documents and what do they actually say? Der Spiegel tells us:

“This is all chronicled in 1,000 secret documents that include 5,299 pages full of project plans, instructions and internal emails from Vulkan from the years 2016 to 2021. Despite being all in Russian and extremely technical in nature, they provide unique insight into the depths of Russian cyberwarfare plans.”

Ok, So where are they?

The media houses have cooperated on the leaks, and the articles have been produced by large teams of journalists in each individual publication.

The Guardian article is by Luke Harding, Stilyana Simeonova, Manisha Ganguly and Dan Sabbagh. The Washington Post Article is by Craig Timberg, Ellen Nakashima, Hannes Munzinga and Hakan Tanriverdi. Der Spiegel’s article is by 22 named journalists!

So that is 30 named journalists, with each publication deploying a large team to produce its own article.

And yet if you read through those three articles, you cannot help but note they are (ahem) remarkably similar.

From Der Spiegel:

“ ‘These documents suggest that Russia sees attacks on civilian critical infrastructure and social media manipulation as one-and-the-same mission, which is essentially an attack on the enemy’s will to fight,’ says John Hultquist, a leading expert on Russian cyberwarfare and vice president of intelligence analysis at Mandiant, an IT security company.”

From The Washington Post:

“ ‘These documents suggest that Russia sees attacks on civilian critical infrastructure and social media manipulation as one and the same mission, which is essentially an attack on the enemy’s will to fight,’ said John Hultquist, the vice president for intelligence analysis at the cybersecurity firm Mandiant.”

From The Guardian:

“John Hultquist, the vice-president of intelligence analysis at the cybersecurity firm Mandiant, which reviewed selections of the material at the request of the consortium, said: ‘These documents suggest that Russia sees attacks on civilian critical infrastructure and social media manipulation as one and the same mission, which is essentially an attack on the enemy’s will to fight.’ ”

Note that it is not just the central Hultquist quote which is the same. In each case the teams of 30 journalists have very slightly altered a copy-and-pasted entire paragraph.

In fact, the remarkable sameness of all three articles, with the same quotes and sources and same ideas, makes plain to anybody reading that all these articles are taken from a single source document. The question is who produced that central document? I assume it is one of the “five security services,” which all of the articles say were consulted.

Same Debunked Claim

Hillary Clinton speaking with supporters at a presidential campaign rally in West Des Moines, Iowa, January 2016. (Gage Skidmore, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Revealingly all three articles include the comprehensively debunked claim that Russia hacked the Hillary Clinton or DNC emails. They all include it despite the fact that none of the three articles makes the slightest attempt to connect this allegation to any of the leaked Vulkan documents, or to provide any evidence for it at all.

The casual reader is led to the conclusion that in some way the Vulkan leak proves the Clinton hack — despite the fact that no evidence is adduced and in fact, on close reading, none of the articles actually makes any claim that there is any reference at all to the Clinton hack in the Vulkan documents, or any other kind of evidence in them supporting the claim.

That all three teams of journalists independently decided to throw in a debunked claim, unrelated to any of the leaked material they are supposedly discussing, is not very probable. Again, they are plainly working from a central source that highlights the Clinton nonsense.

The Washington Post does actually deign to give us a facsimile of one page of one of the leaked emails, which does indeed appear to reference cyberwarfare capabilities to control or disable vital infrastructure.

But the problem is they are showing us page 4 of a document, devoid of context. Why no link to the whole document? We can see it is about research into these capabilities, but presumably the whole document might reveal something about the purpose of such research — for example, is it offensive or to develop defence against such attacks?

I am always suspicious of leaks where the actual documents are kept hidden, and we only know what we are told by — in this case — a propaganda operation which, even on the surface of it, involves Western security services, U.S. government-funded “cyber security firms,” Microsoft and Google.

WikiLeaks, by Contrast  

When WikiLeaks releases documents, they actually release the entirety of the documents so that you can look at them and make up your own mind on what they really say or mean. Such as, for example, the Vault 7 release on “C.I.A. Hacking Tools.”

My favourite Vault 7 revelation was that the C.I.A. hackers leave behind fake “fingerprints,” including commands in Cyrillic script, to create a false trail that the Russians did it. Again, you can see the actual documents onWikiLeaks.

I have no reason to doubt that Russia employs techniques of cyber warfare. But I have absolutely no reason to believe that Russia does so any more than Western security services.

U.S. cyber war researcher. (U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, Flickr)

In fact, there is some indication in this Vulkan information that Russian cyber warfare capability is less advanced than Western. With absolutely zero self-awareness of the implications of what they are saying, Luke Harding and his team at The Guardian tell us that:

“One document shows engineers recommending Russia add to its own capabilities by using hacking tools stolen in 2016 from the US National Security Agency and posted online.”

 It is, of course, only bad when the Russians do it.

The fact there is virtually no cross-referencing to the Snowden or Vault 7 leaks in any of the publications, shows this up for the coordinated security service propaganda exercise that it is.

But there are numerous examples given of various hacks alleged to be committed by Russian security services, with no links whatsoever to any document in the Vulkan leaks, and in fact no evidence given of any kind, except for multiple references to allegations by U.S. authorities.

The Washington Post article has the best claim to maintain some kind of reasonable journalistic standard. It includes these important phrases, admissions notably absent from The Guardian’s Luke Harding led piece:

“These officials and experts could not find definitive evidence that the systems have been deployed by Russia or been used in specific cyberattacks.”


“The documents do not, however, include verified target lists, malicious software code or evidence linking the projects to known cyberattacks.”


“Still, they offer insights into the aims of a Russian state that — like other major powers, including the United States — is eager to grow and systematize its ability to conduct cyberattacks with greater speed, scale and efficiency.”

 The last quote is of course the key point, and The Washington Post does deserve some kudos at least for acknowledging it, which is more than you can say for The Guardian or Der Spiegel. Even The Washington Post, having acknowledged the point, in no way allows it to affect the tone or tenor of its report.

But in truth there is no reason to doubt that the Russian state is developing cyberwarfare capabilities, and there is no reason to doubt that commercial companies including Vulkan are involved in some of the sub-contracted work.

But exactly the same thing is true of the United States, the United Kingdom or any major Western nation. Tens of billions are being poured into cyberwarfare, and the resources deployed on it by NATO states vastly outnumber the resources available to Russia.

Which puts in perspective this large exercise in anti-Russian propaganda. Here are some key facts about it for you:

Taking The Guardian, Washington Post and Der Spiegel articles together:

  • Less than 2 percent of the articles consist of direct quotes from the alleged leaked documents
  • Less than 10 percent of the articles consist of alleged description of the contents of the documents
  • Over 15 percent of the articles consist of comment by Western security services and cyber warfare industry
  • Over 40 percent of the articles consist of descriptions of alleged Russian hacking activity, zero of which is referenced in the actual Vulkan leaks

We get to see one page of an alleged 5,000 leaked, plus a couple of maps and graphics.

It took 30 MSM journalists to produce this gross propaganda. I could have done it alone for them in a night, working up three slightly different articles from what the security services have fed them, directly and indirectly.

I can see the attraction of being a “journalist” shill for power, it has been very easy money for the mucky 30.

Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010. His coverage is entirely dependent on reader support. Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

This article is from

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

36 comments for “Craig Murray: The So Far Non-Existent Vulkan Leaks

  1. Juan Luchador
    April 2, 2023 at 21:26

    Tim N: “Who is this designed to fool . . . liberals and Dem Party stalwarts who bought the Russiagate propaganda, that’s who.” Absolutely spot on. Unfortunately, many still are eating that crap with a spoon.

  2. William
    April 2, 2023 at 13:01

    Look, Aaron Mate essentially shredded Luke Harding’s book on the Steel Dossier, virtually using it as confetti as Harding abruptly exited his interview when he finally realized his bs wasn’t going to be seen as acceptable to Mate’s viewers. We know what he and The Guardian are about. Anyone with any sense anyways. 30 journalist lining up to mirror each others fabrications is nothing short of the same tactics of public relation firms, NGOs, and think tank groups manufacturing news content for MSCMs, which ultimately snowball down to most MSMs. Hell, these ruling class owned entities and intelligence agencies are probably the context of the 30 journalist.

  3. April 2, 2023 at 09:53

    I don’t see references in TFA about Mandiant (besides the quotes)

    That Mandiant is owned by Google should be of concern.

    I did wonder about the “RUSSIA! RUSSIA! RUSSIA!” aghastitude in the Clinton angle. Thanks for reinforcing that suspicion. Now that we have an example of propoganda, let the training begin! We can even go multi-lingual with some Israeli hasbara

  4. Xpat Paula
    April 2, 2023 at 04:28

    Observe, Observer, that all the “journalists” are clearly named in the article.

    • Observer
      April 2, 2023 at 16:44

      The main listing, the 22 cited by Der Spiegel, is a practically illegible graphics scan!

  5. FreeAssange
    April 2, 2023 at 03:31

    When I read ‘Luke Harding’ I know we are in for a good fairytale.

  6. WillD
    April 1, 2023 at 22:25

    We have to remember that this rubbish is not intended to be read by people who actually think, and are willing to spend at least 2 seconds thinking about the content.

    Instead, it is intended for readers who just blindly and stupidly accept that because it is coming from a mainstream ‘trusted’ newspaper it must be correct and truthful. Readers who want to believe it because it is consistent with the rest of the narrative they are being fed.

    The newspapers know full well that their stories can’t withstand even the briefest scrutiny, just like the silly story of 6 people in a rented yacht blowing up the Nordstream pipelines – a story clearly aimed at the unthinkers, but they publish this rubbish anyway because it sells.

    • IJ Scambling
      April 2, 2023 at 11:48

      Interesting Nordstream interview with Hersh (dated April 1);

      more extensive comments on Norway’s role than previous.


  7. Patrick Harvard
    April 1, 2023 at 18:33

    In the conversation below, Aaron Maté interviews Luke Harding and exposes the lies in his book about Trump Russia collusion. As Maté raises the heat, Harding bails out of the interview, utterly humiliated.

    Now Harding is at is again, leading the Guardian “team.” No doubt, Harding is a propagandist who works for the Western security services. Any future books and articles , written by the reporters involved in this latest hoax should be considered with scrutiny and skepticism.

    Where’s the ‘Collusion’?

  8. bardamu
    April 1, 2023 at 18:30

    ::prolonged applause::

    Deconstructing or reverse-engineering these agency releases has become worthy of full time occupation, it seems. This is certainly a help to all of us trying to winnow through media echoes of what’s what.

  9. Mike
    April 1, 2023 at 17:31

    The Guardian is currently owning up to its creation having been on the back of slavery. Will it take another 200 years to admit to this scam – Gospel according to Luke?
    When Britain’s GCHQ openly says that they have cyber routes to shut down any ‘rogue’ players, but only with the approval of a higher authority who is even better at it (from across the pond), it would be very stupid for the target (openly named) to sit back and let their whole economy be shut down by a ‘worm’ from abroad.
    Craig Murray has done another good analytical investigation which would be missed by most of the planet because governments and MSM know that the majority do not get past the headline – though as Craig Murray has shown, if they did, they would see that it is often all tripe.

  10. jamie
    April 1, 2023 at 15:58

    That is why we need chaos; when waters are stirred up, all the crap surfaces after years settled out on the bottom; Trump presidency, then the pandemic, and the last Biden presidency and “the Ukranian Thucydides’ Trap”; all these events have brought to light what our governments and democracies truly are; corrupt, inefficient, xenophobic, and narcissistic to say few. 21 century might be the century of darkness as some said, in which truth is almost as dead as God in our society, a very scarce invaluable resources, yet, because of that, it is also the century that our minds are slowly awaken after decades if not centuries craving for the light.
    Everything is no longer what it was. Not even the conclusions of the poisoning of Skripal and Navalni can be considered true; looking at North Stream it might have been very much staged up by a “pro-Ukranian group” who had access of Russian Novichok, of course with the blessing of UK, Poland, Germany and US/CIA. When those absurd actions failed to cause political turmoil and the sanctions weren’t enough here came Zelensky, in summer 2021, saying openly that the time to get back Crimea has come; who could blame him? only 30% of Ukranians back then wanted him to be president again, today probably more than 50% want him dead, and growing…
    I have always believed that Atlantis was not in the past but in the future, a myth that foretold a prophecy; Trump, the pandemic, the war in Ukraine are huge earthquakes and the sea, which in Jungian symbolism signifies the unconscious, is swallowing all our mental constructs based on ego-gratification and self-deception; the end of an advanced society that look to me very much like ours; perhaps we are making that myth a prophecy, perhaps we have awoken already under water, that is why is so damn dark

  11. CaseyG
    April 1, 2023 at 14:10

    Wow, much of America seems to have morphed into ORWELL WORLD. It’s ” 1984,” all over again!

    • Valerie
      April 1, 2023 at 18:59

      At least CaseyG, Orwell’s novel was based on anthropological science fiction; the reality in which we now live is totalitarianism, mass surveillance and repressive control. (But i guess he had an inkling on the way things were going at the time of writing.)

  12. tim
    April 1, 2023 at 12:59

    Same setup in coverage
    -no actual documents
    John Hultquist is named


  13. Robert Sinuhe
    April 1, 2023 at 11:32

    This thing goes from the silly to the serious. The silly: Boris and Natasha are working overtime to bring down the U.S. Government; the Russians, in league with aliens, are plotting to pilfer our precious bodily fluids; and other fantastical concoctions too numerous to name. The Russians have been whipping-boys for decades. Frustration is leaking in from the battlefields of Ukraine. But, it has been common knowledge that cyber attacks are possible and have been used to some extent. The great fear that in pushing the envelope of war, cyber attacks will be the next weapon and become so numerous as to imperil whole populations.

    • April 2, 2023 at 14:13

      Boris and Natasha, propaganda directed to children, General Jack D. Ripper losing his mind, the complete destruction of the Armed Forces of The Ukraine and the loss of this Washington Proxy War all examined here in much depth . . . hxxps://

  14. Papi Phonic
    April 1, 2023 at 10:50

    >>> The Guardian article is by Luke Harding

    Full stop.

    • rosemerry
      April 1, 2023 at 14:52

      Exactly!!!! This betrayer of Julian Assange, teller of tall tales about any topic he is allowed to spout, execrable journalist found in Salisbury or Kiev or such zones of influence, showed his real self years ago on a program shown on The Real News Network when the wonderful Aaron Maté interviewed him! I could not watch his insufferable responses at first, but Aaron was so clever as an interviewer that every horrible piece of his “character” was revealed.

      • Valerie
        April 1, 2023 at 18:25

        From Wikipedia:

        “Luke Daniel Harding (born 21 April 1968) is a British journalist who is a foreign correspondent for The Guardian. He was based in Russia for The Guardian from 2007 until, returning from a stay in the UK on 5 February 2011, he was refused re-entry to Russia and deported the same day.”

        It goes on, with links to various things.

  15. April 1, 2023 at 10:48

    “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive”! Of course, that was long, long ago, which is why Julian Assange sits rotting in a British jail, at the Biden administration’s and the former Clinton campaign’s request.

  16. Observer
    April 1, 2023 at 09:48

    It would be more useful if you named all the “journalists” who worked on this story, so we could check what other product they have published (we all know about Luke Harding, but what about the rest of them?). Perhaps comparing them with the leaked lists of Integrity Initiative presstitutes would be revealing.

  17. Walter
    April 1, 2023 at 09:13

    Longtimeago in the days of morse code telegraph, word count cost money…so wire service stories were made very brief, and “re-write” men would puff up a story that came into a newspaper.

    The three texts are fair examples of re-writing done by “journalists” – not very good examples either. Alas! Standards!

    We did better in junior high school.

    Of course, the story is a story. A rather amateur story at that.

  18. April 1, 2023 at 07:33

    Yes indeed, the “Vietnam syndrome” is such a terror to the war machine that they must keep telling everyone that the Russians are sapping our “will to fight”. The public should not be concerned about crumbling roads, bridges and rail systems, they should focus on maintaining the “will to fight”. Forget about sanction-induced inflation and trillions of wasted tax dollars, just stay angry at those devious Russians who try and trick us into peace.

  19. Jörgen Hassler
    April 1, 2023 at 07:31

    Earth is finally getting some help from Vulcan? It’s about time.

    Live long and prosper!

    • Valerie
      April 1, 2023 at 18:31

      Agree. There’s life, but not as we know it. And most are out of their “Vulcan” minds.

  20. TP Graf
    April 1, 2023 at 06:51

    When I saw the WP article all I could do is roll my eyes and shake my head. Big news–a nuclear power trying to develop cyber-war tools. I didn’t even notice the weight they were trying to peddle by listing four journalists. And what the hell, Der Spiegel? Twenty-two? I know they have better things to do such as real investigative work into Nordstream!

    Thank you, Mr. Murray for showing how ridiculous this band of thirty and their masters truly are. Somehow they never disappoint when it comes to how low they will go and stupid they will make themselves look in the process.

  21. firstpersoninfinite
    April 1, 2023 at 00:24

    This is a great in-depth look at the propaganda machine, now spread out over “Five-Eyes” and Nato. It’s as if the US is still living in 1947, and we’re in charge of everything – only no one else needs to know it just yet. But such species of propaganda as these articles are only shows that we don’t really get it. We don’t understand that having the bomb first doesn’t mean we get to rule the schoolyard. No one cares about our tantrums anymore. They are just the tantrums of bullies, and there’s always a bully with a greater chip on his shoulder about to turn the corner of the building, especially since we created the chip on their shoulder by the dead bodies we left behind for them. The US could easily overthrow any opponent in the world just by being a light unto the world – I mean, of course, a real light unto the world. The bomb was always a Faustian bargain whose guaranteed failure made us too stupid to survive the slightest tumult of history. Most likely, we’ll piddle away the time left to us with our struggle to impose the “rules-based” order, amid heroic attempts to save the last resources for those billionaires ready to leave this blue void behind them.

  22. Elial
    April 1, 2023 at 00:09

    That Luke Harding is one of the journalists tells it all. I need no further convincing that this is a total fake, intel run propaganda campaign.

    Harding wrote a book on Trump colluding with Russia about 4 years ago. Aaron Mate interviewed him and the results were hilarious -the evidence and logic Harding used left Mate laughing outright in his face. After 40 minutes of showing himself to be the nitwit that he is, Harding abruptly terminated the interview. It is a gem to watch.

  23. robert e williamson jr
    March 31, 2023 at 21:49

    In one instance we have a country very surreptitiously ripping off a software contractor and then releasing it to foreign nationals who profit from the theft and that spies on the customers who bought the product via secret back doors.

    In the other we have half-backed bullshit that most honest people would have distanced themselves from by written disclaimer. Be sure, I have little or no knowledge John Hultquist or his firm Mandiant, makes little difference to me because of this example which speaks volumes by what it does not say.

    Th result produces a very bias claim against another country and that produces very little if any evidence of destructive conduct / or the results by said country.

    Base on what I know, all from publicly available sources , about the PROMIS software saga and the Inslaw Scandal we, in the first instance , have a country that seems to be desirous of outing it’s self.

    At some point in time we have to ask ourselves how long are we going go allow this world class embarrassment continue, because it is obvious, in the first case that this group of people are incapable of rational thought.

    It’s not just a thought , but any thought!

    Thanks CN

  24. Graeme
    March 31, 2023 at 18:44

    Aah Luke Harding and The Guardian, now there’s a reliable combination.
    Co-author of WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy published by Guardian Books, say no more.

  25. Jeff Harrison
    March 31, 2023 at 16:30

    Don’t kid yourself, Mr. Murray. This is a CIA plant. It’s as real as a $3bill.

    • Carolyn Zaremba
      April 1, 2023 at 04:25

      Luke Harding is a vile toad, liar, and shit-stirrer. It was Harding who threw Julian Assange under the bus by revealing the secret passcode that enabled the release of unredacted documents, an act that was blamed on Assange, when Assange spent hours redacting names. Journalist Aaron Maté ripped Harding a new one in a televised interview, wherein Harding displayed all the signs of a two-year-old who has just been denied a piece of chocolate.

      • Guy St Hilaire
        April 3, 2023 at 10:48

        I couldn’t think of a better description for this imposter of journalism.

    • Tim N
      April 1, 2023 at 09:43

      Now comes the vile and contemptible Luke Harding again, still peddling his Russiagate bullshit. Who is this designed to fool, or perhaps assuage and comfort for a while? The same liberals and Dem Party stalwarts who bought the Russiagate propaganda, that’s who. Maybe Thom Hartmann can have Harding on his show again so they can pick through the lies and innuendo all over again.

    • James Keye
      April 1, 2023 at 14:03

      True or not, you’ve missed the point: evidence based journalism, not accusation.

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