Kremlin denies that Russia is causing hunger in Africa

Russian-flagged bulk carrier Matros Koshka sails in Istanbul's Bosphorus

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Thursday that Russia remained a reliable supplier of grain despite obstacles created by Western countries, and that food shortages in Africa were nothing to do with Moscow.

Russia in July quit a year-old agreement that had allowed Ukraine, one of the world's biggest exporters, to ship grain from its Black Sea ports despite Russia's invasion and military control of Ukrainian waters, and ease a surge in global prices.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was asked in a briefing about reported accusations by the head of Ukraine's Security Council that Moscow was causing hunger in Africa, where many countries depend on imported grain.

Those accusations "are completely baseless, they are wrong and they are a deliberate distortion of reality," Peskov said.

"The shortage of grains and food shortages on the African continent have nothing to do with our country."

"Russia, even now, despite the fact that the deal itself no longer works, takes a responsible position: you know about the initiative to send free grain to the poorest countries of the African continent."

In quitting the deal, Russia argued that Western sanctions were impeding its own food and fertiliser exports, in contravention of a separate agreement.

Since then, Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to send up to 50,000 tons of grain for free to each of six African countries - a quantity unlikely to make significant inroads into food shortages on the continent.

Peskov said there were no concrete results yet on a proposed scheme to ship Russian grain involving Turkey and Qatar.

Russia has proposed the plan, in which Qatar would guarantee deliveries of free grain to poor countries, as an alternative to the Black Sea grain deal.

Turkey has, however, been trying to convince Moscow to return to the agreement that it brokered. Two Turkish sources told Reuters that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan would meet Putin in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on Sept. 4 for talks focusing on Black Sea grain exports.

(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Bernadette Baum)