The Russian special services suspect that several Chechen rebel groups are preparing to cross the Russian-Georgian/Azerbaijani border, even though the mountain passes are covered by snow (some by 16 feet of snow, while others are still passable) and border guard units continue to control them. The border guards have been bringing up reserve units, conducting aggressive patrolling, improving their fortified outposts and reinforcing local blockades.
The Combined Federal Forces also suspects that the rebels could be preparing large-scale attacks for the end of Ramadan (7 December), instead of keeping their forces dissipated for smaller 'pin prick' raids. However, Spetsnaz units have been busy headhunting inside of Chechnya. Eliminating rebel leaders, one by one, has been the most-successful Russian tactic to date.
On 25 November, they killed Islam Luluyev (the ninth of ten 'disciples' of rebel field commander Movsar Barayev to be wiped out). Barayev was killed during a special operation to free hostages in a Moscow theater in October. Field commander Isa Maayev was detained in the Vedeno district on the 26th. Maayev is suspected of being involved in the attacks on helicopters in October and November. There had been two engagements between Russian special-purpose units and up to 20 rebels near Samashki on 25-27 November. - Adam Geibel