Why Russia just built a new military base in the Arctic

Russia is giving the world a look at its new Arctic military base through an online virtual tour.

Known as the "Arctic Shamrock," the 14,000-square-mile, three-pointed base is now Russia's most northern permanent installation.

Since temperatures there can dip below -58 degrees Fahrenheit, the base is designed so soldiers can travel between buildings without going outside.

The Shamrock has a chapel, gym, movie theater, library and clinic, which is good because tours of duty there are said to be 18 months long.

Unsurprisingly, the base's military capabilities weren't highlighted in the virtual tour.

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Under the sea in Antarctica

Weddell seal and pup swimming underwater in Antarctica.

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A cable portrudes from the ice wall at Explorers Cover, New Harbor, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. The cable is used for the Remotely Operable Micro-Environmental Observatory (ROMEO), an underwater camera. Connected to onshore equipment and linked by radio to

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The Marbled Rockcod (Notothenia rossii) copes with the icy waters of Antarctica by means of a biological antifreeze in its body fluids, Antarctica.

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Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), key species in the Antarctic ecosystem. Grows to 6 cm and occurs in densities ranging up to 30,000 in a cubic metre. 

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Unidentified large jellyfish in brash ice, Cierva Cove, Antarctica, Southern Ocean, Polar Regions.

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Icefish in Antarctica have no scales or haemoglobin, so their blood is white.

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Antarctic Sea star (Odontaster validus) in Antarctica.

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Antarctic Sea urchin, (Sterechinus neumayeri) with camouflage attached, Antarctica.

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Antarctic Limpet (Nacella concinna) in Antarctica.

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Barbed plunder fish in Antarctic underwater.

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Antarctica, Cuverville Island, Underwater view of Comb Jellyfish swimming beneath ice along plankton-filled shallow water.

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Orange yellow anemone surrounded by brown algae, Antarctica.

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Two yellow sea stars and white worm strands, Antarctica.

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But the Shamrock represents increased interests up north. It's Russia's second Arctic air-defense base built during President Vladimir Putin's tenure.

Plus, the country is building an airstrip and four more military bases in the Arctic.

So why build in such a remote, desolate, ice-covered region? It's mostly about protecting economic interests.

The oil and natural gas reserves inside Russia's borders are quickly depleting. Because of that, the nation's economy relies heavily on oil and natural gas from the Arctic.

SEE MORE: What Melting Arctic Ice Sheets Could Do To The World's Ocean Currents

The good news for Russia is ice in the region is melting, which could make it easier to access those resources.

But aside from the environmental costs, the bad news is the area of the Arctic that Russia claims to own is expensive to mine.

On top of that, low crude oil prices worldwide have threatened Russia's Arctic profits.

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