(Bloomberg) -- Germany launched a task force to counter disinformation campaigns by countries including Russia that the government in Berlin says are designed to undermine democracy and sow discord.

With the creation of the new unit, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s ruling coalition is taking the next step in implementing conclusions from its inaugural national security strategy published last year, which singled out the Kremlin as the principal menace to Germany’s security.

The task force, a joint initiative of the interior, foreign and justice ministries, will start its work with 10 dedicated analysts and the number of staff is set to double to 20 charged with monitoring and analysis.

The focus will be on detecting and debunking disinformation operations on social media, including those allegedly sponsored by the Kremlin. One example is the so-called “Doppelgaenger” campaign, which generated more than a million posts on X from tens of thousands of fake accounts within a few weeks, according to the German government.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said the security situation in Germany “remains tense,” due both to the “brutal Russian war of aggression against Ukraine” and “the terrible escalations in the Middle East.”

“The threat to our democracy from espionage, sabotage, disinformation and cyber attacks has reached a new dimension,” Faeser said Tuesday as she presented the latest annual report from Germany’s domestic intelligence agency.

As well as an increase in both right- and left-wing extremist criminal offenses, there was also a big jump in crimes motivated by antisemitism, according to the report.

“We must break the spiral in which escalations in the Middle East lead to even more repugnant hatred of Jews in our country,” Faeser said.

Another aim of the new disinformation task force is to preempt and defuse the campaigns before they take off, a tactic known as “prebunking,” the government said.

It also wants to make the operators of social media platforms such as X and Facebook more accountable and increase the pressure — if necessary also with sanctions — so that fake accounts and disinformation campaigns are removed more rapidly.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “warfare is also directed against us,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was quoted as saying in an interview with Sueddeutsche Zeitung published Sunday.

“He wants to destroy the peace order in Europe and with it as many liberal democracies as possible,” she added. “He also has henchmen on the far right and far left in our parliaments who adopt his propaganda one-to-one.”

(Updates with minister’s comments, starting in fifth paragraph)

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