In an effort to ease tensions and spur diplomacy with Russia, U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. stripped down to black swimming trucks before taking a dip in the icy waters of a Russian river on Sunday.
Huntsman’s decision to brave the freezing cold Istra River, which is located outside Moscow, came after Russian President Vladimir Putin took a similar plunge on Friday to celebrate the Epiphany – a holiday in the Orthodox Christianity marking the baptism of Jesus.
“This allows us to better get to know Russia’s great culture from the inside,” Huntsman said, The Washington Post reported, citing local media. Huntsman said he believes his descent in the chilling water could help restore relations.
In December, the Trump administration cracked down on Russia by imposing sanctions on five Russians under the Magnitsky Act and set up a plan to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine. Last week, the president accused the country of aiding North Korea in bypassing international sanctions against the regime.
The ambassador said he “is confident that this cold tradition can help move Russian-American relations in a warm direction.”
Although Huntsman wasn’t able to hide the discomfort of submerging his body in the frigid water quite like Putin, the act alone received praise from the press and showed “Russian courage and English gallantry,” TV channel 360 said according to the Post.