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JERUSALEM: Israel condemned Russia's attack on Ukraine Thursday as a "violation of the international order" but underlined its close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv.

"The Russian attack on Ukraine is a serious violation of the international order," Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said, adding that Israel "condemns" the assault.

But Lapid also noted that "Israel has deep, long-lasting and good relations with Russia and with Ukraine," and that "hundreds of thousands of Jews" live in both countries.

"Maintaining their security and safety is at the top of our considerations," Lapid said.

Israel has sought to maintain a diplomatic balance through the deepening crisis.

More than 40 Ukraine soldiers, nearly 10 civilians killed

The United States is Israel's key security ally and analysts say the Jewish state will face mounting pressure to align with the West against Moscow.

But Israel also has an important security relationship with Russia, particularly given the presence of Russian forces in neighbouring Syria.

Israeli officials have said they have coordinated closely with Russia while conducting air strikes on what they describe as Iranian targets inside Syria.

Lapid said Israel stood ready "to provide humanitarian assistance to the citizens of Ukraine." The Russian invasion has sparked fears of an exodus of refugees.

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