WASHINGTON (AP) -- Russia on Thursday recalled its ambasador to the United States to protest President Clinton's decision to launch air attacks against Iraq, the State Department said.
Ambassador Yuli M. Vorontsov is flying home to Moscow for "consultations," said James P. Rubin, the State Department's spokesman. He called the development "unfortunate.""The Russians have informed us that is their decision, but we expect to continue to work with Russia on a variety of levels on the many issues of importance to Russia and to us around the world," Rubin said.
President Clinton was expected to telephone Yeltsin on Friday in another effort to persuade him to back the United States on the attack. Vice President Al Gore called Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov on Thursday with the same appeal.
Clinton, Gore and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright reached out Thursday for wider support around the world for a sustained military assault on Iraq. They also failed to sway China and France, in addition to Russia.
"One thing is clear," Albright said after talking with leaders in more than 20 countries. "The international community is firm in its determination the way forward is for Iraq to comply fully" with U.N. weapons inspectors.
Yeltsin said in Moscow that "Russia demands an immediate end to military action, to show common sense and restraint and not to allow further escalation of the conflict."
Rubin said the United States had long had differences with Russia on the question of using force against Iraq. "Their reaction is not a surprise," he said.
As U.S. and British forces struck again at Iraqi targets, Clinton telephoned President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, King Hussein of Jordan, President Jacques Chirac of France and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Gore, meanwhile, in what appeared to be an unsuccessful pitch, told Primakov the administration had "gone the last mile" to get President Saddam Hussein to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions that authorize the rebuffed inspections. But the Russian minister said the Kremlin opposed the use of force in Iraq and there had to be a new U.N. resolution to authorize it, a Gore aide said.
White House national security spokesman David Leavy declined to characterize what Clinton said to the leaders. "They were all good, constructive conversations," Leavy said.
Albright, at a news conference, said every foreign embassy in Washington was being briefed by the administration, and that she, alone, had contacted more than 20 foreign leaders and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
"The response has been gratifying," Albright said.
Later, she called Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, asking him to try to "calm the streets," a U.S. official said.
Among Arab leaders, Albright said she found "a full understanding of why we have undertaken military action. Most expressed the view that Saddam was entirely responsible for the military strike now under way..."
In fact, Albright said, Arab governments were assisting the United States and Britain in their military offensive.
On the other hand, she acknowledged Russia and China were critical of the attack. "But over the past year, they have failed to provide any viable alternative," Albright said.
France, she said, expressed regret a peaceful solution could not be found, but faulted Saddam's behavior as the root cause of the conflict.
Germany, Canada, Australia, Norway, South Korea and Spain were among U.S. allies that publicly registered their support. while Iran condemned the use of force and warned it could shatter regional security.
Russia was especially outspoken in its opposition.
Yeltsin said further strikes "could result in the most dramatic consequences not only for the Iraqi settlement but for the stability of the entire region."
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, speaking in Madrid, Spain, said "nobody has the right to act on their own in the name of the United Nations and even less to pretend to be the judge of the entire world."
And despite Albright's claim of broad Arab support, the Arab League condemned the strikes while Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi called the attack "a violation of the U.N. charter and the principles of international law."
Still, Albright said at the State Department that "we are being successful in terms of our goals here."
The Bush administration was able to put together a wider coalition to attack Iraq and force it to reverse its annexation of neighboring Kuwait.
But Albright said the two situations were dissimilar.
"What you had was a cross-border aggression and something that was very visible, and aggression into an Arab country," she said of Iraq's takeover of Kuwait in 1990 and the U.S.-led war to liberate the oil-rich emirate.
"We are now dealing with a threat, I think, that is probably harder for some to understand because it is a threat of the future rather a present threat or a present act, such as a border aggression."