The Russian military is forecasting an increase in Chechen rebel activities after the opening of mountain paths, which are impassable until the springtime snow thaws. A source told the Interfax-Military News Agency on 22 April that the mujahadeen were "planning to relocate to Chechnya from Georgia and Azerbaijan and to deliver ammo, arms including portable SAM systems, medicines and foodstuffs on mountain paths".
The Russian air force wasn't waiting to go after targets in Chechnya's southern mountains. SU-24 Fencer bombers flew four combat sorties on the 21st, destroying a rebel camp, two strongpoints and setting a roadblock on a mountain pass (an air-dropped anti-personnel minefield). MI-24 Hind helicopters also inflicted several air strikes on small rebel groups, while MI-8 Hips flew five surveillance missions. - Adam Geibel
Interior Ministry representative Sergei Cherkashin, the Russian Interior Ministry's Organized Crime Prevention Main Department, told a Moscow news conference on 23 April that most of the Chechen warlords were currently in-country. To date, over 100 of these rebel leaders had been arrested or killed in special operations.
Most recently, Federal forces conducting special operations in Shali detained Islam Khasukhanov, operational chief of staff of rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov. Khasukhanov had served in the Kremlin's navy to the rank of Captain Class I, until his discharge from the armed forces into the reserve. Starting at the end of 1997, he headed the "Armed Forces of Ichkeria" operations department.
Islam Chalayev, second in command of the Islamic Special Mission regiment, was killed in Grozny on 6 April but his body was discovered by Federal troops on the 8th, in the village of Alkhan Kala. - Adam Geibel