ANTIWAR.COM — US Marines are landing in Iceland and warplanes are flying overhead in Scandinavia, just days ahead of the kickoff of Trident Juncture. The annual exercise, focused on the Arctic Circle and Scandinavia, is set to be the largest operation since the Cold War.

31 countries are involved, 29 NATO members and Finland and Sweden. They will overall be sending 50,000 troops, 10,000 vehicles, 150 warplanes and 65 ships. Starting Thursday, the exercise will last a month.

And while officials insist it’s not strictly along the Russian border, Russian military officials say it is close enough, and clearly targeted at growing Russian interests in the Arctic Circle, as warmer temperatures open up new route.

NATO officials are being two-faced about this, however, on the one hand insisting this is just an annual exercise, and on the other hand presenting it as a “response to Russian aggression,” the same excuse for every massive exercise along the Russian frontier.

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