The Moscow press has already dubbed it "the year of the Great Retreat."
But 1994, when Russian troops leave Germany and the Baltics after half a century defending the Soviet empire, is also the year of the vanishing soldier.In a malaise reaching to the core of Russia's armed forces, key positions are left unfilled, recruits fail to turn up for duty and only a few thousand pilots are ready for action.
Plans for an army of 2.2 million are unfulfilled.
"The actual figure is much lower, I think it is around 1.5 or 1.6 million," said Vladimir Nikaronov, spokesman for the Russian armed forces, confirming estimates from Western military experts.
The shrinking army - the number of military men already matches targets outlined by President Boris Yeltsin for the end of 1995 - comes despite the withdrawal of some 600,000 soldiers from Eastern Europe since the Iron Curtain fell.
The army newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda described the withdrawal as a huge achievement.
The last Russian soldiers leave Germany on Wednesday, which is also the date when the final units must be gone from the Baltic states of Latvia and Estonia.
The Soviet Union annexed the two states in 1940, and troops have been based there since. Russian soldiers left Lithuania, the third Baltic state, just over a year ago.
"On August 31, Russia's half-century `occupation' of Eastern Europe comes to an end," the popular Moskovsky Komsomolets news-paper said in a front-page article last week.