MOSCOW (AP) _ Russia's Baltic fleet will eventually cut its strength 39 percent and will start removing ships from the three Baltic republics this year, its commander said Tuesday.

In remarks published by the military newspaper Red Star, Adm. Vladimir Yegorov said outdated missile submarines and some modern subs would be withdrawn soon from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. He did not say when all naval units would be moved to Russian ports.

''All in all, we will have to withdraw hundreds of units from the Baltic states,'' Yegorov told the newspaper. ''But the fleet will remain a normal combat-ready structure with two naval bases in Baltiisk and Kronstadt.''

He did not say when the fleet would be cut back in size.

The Baltic fleet has about 40,000 to 60,000 servicemen, said Cmdr. Geoffrey Bryant at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. He said the fleet has 17 submarines among its complement of warships.

Yegorov said the withdrawal of naval units from the Baltic states was awaiting the construction of new port facilities and housing in Russia.

A lack of housing for Russian soldiers, sailors and airmen returning from former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact countries has delayed their withdrawal.