Tanks participating in the Joint Reindeer military exercises held in Norway. Source: Norwegian Army Facebook page video screen capture

A contingent of US Marines are among the 350 allied soldiers that have joined Arctic maneuvers in Norway this week involving a total of 5,000 troops, according to the Independent Barents Observer.

US participation in the exercise reflects the growing strategic importance of the Arctic region amid growing tensions between Russia and NATO countries. The other allied soldiers include a detachment of Royal Netherlands Marines.

The military drill, called Joint Reindeer, is taking place under freezing conditions in Troms County, the second northernmost region in Norway, and includes hundreds of military vehicles and a core combat unit of the Norwegian Army.

The various forces will reportedly practice GPS jamming and will engage in coordinated ground, sea and air activities. The exercise area is about 500 km in air distance from the Russian border. Russian fighters have reportedly flown close to the Norwegian military maneuvers zone in the past.

Russian bombers also reportedly conducted simulated attacks against a Norwegian military radar station and NATO ships operating off the Norwegian coast over the last year.