Russia should be part of Europe in the mid-to-long term, the head of a leading Russian commercial bank told CNBC on Thursday.
"Russia is interested in a strong Europe … it is not interested in Europe disintegrating," Otkritie CEO Ruben Aganbegyan told CNBC from the St. Petersburg International Forum in Russia.
Russia's relationship with Europe has deteriorated since the European Union imposed sanctions on Moscow after its incursion in Crimea in 2014 and its alleged role in the pro-Russian uprising in eastern Ukraine. The 28 EU countries will vote on whether to extend sanctions in July.
It is a fragile time for the EU, with the U.K. set to vote on whether to quit the group in a referendum next week and fractions over how many refugees each member country should accept from Iraq and Syria.
Aganbegyan denied Russia benefited from disunity in the EU, despite statements to the contrary from the likes of Marek Belka, the governor of the National Bank of Poland.
The possibility of a so-called Brexit was creating anxiety, Aganbegyan told CNBC.
"The unknown always created anxiety … Europe as it is right now has problems but it is quite a strong union and has worked for quite a long time," he said.
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