On Saturday (August 20), NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman announced that he’s got permission and is trying to go to Russia this week to help Brittney Griner, a WNBA player who was convicted on drug charges this month sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison.
“I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl,” Rodman told NBC News. “I’m trying to go this week.”
Brittney Griner was detained at a Russian airport due to the fact that she was carrying a vape pen with hash oil in her backpack.
In the likelihood that Rodman travels to Russia, it will not be the first time that he has engaged in unofficial diplomacy with a foreign head of state whose country has strained relations with the United States.
Over the course of the previous decade, Rodman has worked to foster a relationship with Kim Jong Un, the current leader of North Korea, by paying repeated visits to the country.
In 2018, he even made an appearance in Singapore during a meeting between Kim Jong Un and the then-President of the United States, Donald Trump.
Rodman also claims credit for his role in securing the freedom of Kenneth Bae, an American citizen who was being held captive in North Korea.
Griner’s incarceration has added to the already existing friction between the two nations. However, it could also open up new diplomatic possibilities.
Even though Rodman only needs a visa from Moscow to enter Russia, the US State Department has issued a travel recommendation that strongly discourages American people from traveling to the country.
“Do not travel to Russia,” the State Department advises, citing many reasons such as the “unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine,” potential “harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials” and the risk of “wrongful detention.”
However, he does not technically require any special approval from the United States to enter Russia.
Rodman has expressed confidence in his ability to understand the Russian president. After a visit to Moscow in 2014, he referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as “cool.”
“I know Putin too well,” he said.
It will be interesting to see if Rodman can actually help her out.
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