"I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl," Rodman said. "I'm trying to go this week.”
Although Rodman does not need permission to travel to the country (just a visa from Russia is required), the U.S. State Department has issued a travel advisory that “strongly discourages” American citizens to visit the country because of the ongoing conflict with Ukraine.
"Do not travel to Russia," the State Department advised. The Department listed numerous reasons for the advisory including the "unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine," potential "harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials" and the possibility of "wrongful detention."
A senior official from the Biden administration said that Rodman’s presence in Russia could cause further complications for Griner as her release is currently being negotiated.
“It’s public information that the administration has made a significant offer to the Russians and anything other than negotiating further through the established channel is likely to complicate and hinder release efforts,” the official said.
The U.S. reportedly offered a swap of Griner and Paul Whelan for imprisoned Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Over the last few years, Rodman has taken it upon himself to meet with international leaders who have strained relations with the United States.
In 2013, Rodman organized an exhibition basketball game featuring several former professional and semi-pro basketball players that was held in North Korea. The event was branded “basketball diplomacy,” and after the trip, Rodman said that Kim Jong Un was his “friend for life” and a “great guy.”
When he visited Moscow in 2014, Rodman described Russian President Vladimir Putin as "cool." Also, Rodman was in attendance when former President Donald Trump met with the North Koran president in Singapore in 2018. Rodman even credited himself with securing the release of Kenneth Bae, an American citizen, from North Korea.
Rodman claims to have a good relationship with the Russian president saying, "I know Putin too well."
Griner was sentenced to 9 years in prison and fined 1 million rubles, which is approximately $16,400, for allegedly bringing illegal drugs into Russia in early August.