What countries is Russian spoken in?
I know Russia, obviously! And also in the Ukraine too!
But what I want to know, how widespread is the use of the Russian language in other countries such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Latvia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia etc?
in the former soviet union, there's a pervasive belief that the children ought to speak their native language, russian, and english. in that order (although georgians would certainly argue that russian and english ought to switch places). learning russian literally opens up half of asia. a lot of them want to learn english, but they're so detached and remote from the anglosphere, that's a long ways off even with the spread of globalization. think of russian as a kind of passport to the region.
As far as I know, because of the Soviet legacy, geographical proximity and economic relations, it's pretty widespread in most post-Soviet countries. I'm from Turkey and have lots of friends from Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkmenistan and they all speak Russian (especially when they come together). Yet they also say that this tradition is slowly changing with the new generation.
About a million ex-soviet jewish people and their family members (my family among them) made aliya to Israel so it's very widespread here, with access to russian tv channels, a few israeli channels in russian, israeli russian newspaprers, russian interface on websites of companies, banks, etc...
People in Belarus speak all Russian but even if they speak Belarusian they tend to prefer Russian. Belarusian is an official language together with Russian in Belarus.
Russian is also spoken in Kazakhstan together with Kazakh while Russian speaks everyone.
Everybody whom you talk to in Russian should understand you as the dialects only differ in the pronunciation of some letters.
Yup, the USSR definitely have a role here. I know for a fact that many of the older generation of Chinese scholars learnt Russian which made academic exchanges more convenient between the PRC and the USSR. Common civilians might also know a few Russian folk songs, for example «Катюша» has been a very popular song back then, especially in the northern areas.