In the interview with Reuters, Gref said there was little that Russian banks can do to mitigate the damage from sanctions.

“We were sanctioned not because of our actions or shareholder structure, but because that was how the geopolitical situation was,” Gref said.

“In the case of the latest round of sanctions, it is obvious that the U.S. Treasury Department did not take into account all the consequences. Many refiners in Europe were left with no primary aluminum. Now the time is needed to find a solution which would comfort all. For the market this was a shock.”

Gref is one of a group of influential people within the ruling camp who are pushing for structural reform of the economy. They favor a higher retirement age, a reduced role for the state in the economy, and investment in high-tech projects.

However, their ideas face resistance from other camps associated with the Kremlin, and no firm plan of action has yet emerged.

“I think there is a big appetite for reform and everyone would like to see systemic changes,” said Gref.

“Our president has underlined the need for serious changes and has set up quite ambitious targets. The question is how to achieve them. In my opinion, this is impossible without reforming our institutions and socio-economic policies.”

After being sworn in for a fourth term as president on May 7, Putin ordered the government to make the Russian economy one of the world’s top five by 2024 and said he wanted to prioritize health, education and infrastructure spending.