Prime Minister Tammam Salam denied Thursday that forged documents have been used by a firm seeking to ship Lebanon’s accumulating trash to Russia, noting that Moscow has expressed its willingness to help the country in this regard through its top diplomat Sergei Lavrov.

“We are certainly not witnessing an attempt to forge documents in the file of waste and these are baseless reports,” Salam said in an interview on LBCI television.

“Where are the alleged documents? We received copies of the documents from Russia and we asked for the original ones. This is the whole story,” he noted.

“Should trash export fail, we will return to the landfills option. We are not obstructing the exportation plans and the biggest concern is disposing of the garbage,” the PM added.

Earlier in the day, the cabinet announced that it would return to a waste management plan based on “sanitary landfills” if the British firm negotiating with the state over trash export fails to submit the required documents by Friday.

A scandal has rocked the trash export file in recent days following claims made by the Russian Environment Ministry that it has not given its seal of approval to the export of Lebanon’s garbage.

Agriculture Minister Akram Shehayyeb told As Safir newspaper in remarks published Thursday that Britain’s Chinook Urban Mining company, which has received the government’s approval to export the waste, has until Friday to provide the Lebanese authorities with a document that carries the signatures of the Russian Foreign and Environment Ministries and the Lebanese Embassy in Moscow.

The document should also include the signature of the Russian Environment Ministry on its commitment to the export of waste based on the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, he said.

Ambiguity emerged earlier this week on the deal struck with Chinook when Nikolai Gudkov, press officer at the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, denied that Russia gave the green light to send Lebanon’s waste to a Russian province, describing a document received from the British firm by the authorities in Moscow as forged.

Lebanon’s trash management crisis erupted in July 2015 when the country’s largest landfill in Naameh, which received the waste of Beirut and Mount Lebanon, was closed.

“Lavrov stressed to me in Munich that Russia wants to help Lebanon in the file of waste but the issue requires some time,” Salam confirmed during the interview.

Separately, the premier told LBCI that his “faltering government” is “struggling to survive.”

“We must keep the major controversial issues outside cabinet and we must run the affairs of citizens and people,” he stressed.

He also hoped an agreement recently reached by the rival political parties to facilitate the cabinet’s work after months of paralysis is not “temporary.”

“I’m trying to be balanced in my stances in a country that has lost its balance due to the political crisis,” Salam added.

“I recently wrote my resignation letter and carried it to the council of ministers but I backed down from my decision for the sake of Lebanon,” he pointed out.

Salam also described Lebanon’s democratic system as “ill,” calling on the political parties to quickly elect a president to end the vacuum that has been running since May 2014.