Moscow is trying to tap the region's massive oil and natural gas reserves and encourage commercial shipping through an Arctic shortcut between European and Asian ports.
Neighbouring countries in the Arctic say Russia's moves are a cause for concern.
Most of the Arctic isn't up for dispute. But the little that is will take years, even decades, to resolve.
The permits were approved despite officials earlier concluding that long-term drilling in the Arctic's Chukchi Sea would come with a 75 percent chance of a major spill.
The decision comes three years after Shell's disastrous first attempt to drill in the Arctic.
The base will launch drones to patrol Russia's eastern waters and assist Russian navy