The Russian language is Slavic, meaning that its roots are in Indo-European languages, and it is now spoken by over 300 million people. Most likely, the rise of Slav people from Poland, migrating into the area now known as Russia, gave way to Slavs expanding their language. By the 10th century, three distinct Slavonic languages emerged and now make up three sub-categories: East-Slavic, West-Slavic and Southern Slavic. There are other groups broken down among these three groups. There is, however, some debate about the exact origin of the Slavic languages and their parent language. It is believed that the Slavic languages share as a parent language the Proto-Indo-European language. The role of time and distance allowed for variations in Slavic vernacular and dialect, which have allowed for the changes in the Slavic languages all over Eurasia. But because of the main composure of the Slavic language, and the adherence to common grammatical features, the separate groups of Slavic languages were all able to use one common language.
The Russian language, in particular, influenced the language of most of its Soviet neighbor countries, by virtue of mere location. While neighboring countries have languages that are almost interchangeable with the Russian language, those countries have attempted (since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991) to encourage and adopt their own languages. As a language, Russian was used as a sort of unification tool by the Soviet Union, and for this reason, most people who come from neighboring countries of Russia are able to speak Russian and their own version of the Slavic language of their own homeland.
Since the dissolution of the Soviet state, many of the inhabitants of nearby countries have turned away from the Russian language in favor of their own county’s language; thus, there is a sharp decline in the amount of younger people learning and speaking the mother Russian language. There are now fourteen independent “Soviet” states or republics. Prior to World War II, Russian was mandatory in the school systems in all Soviet states, including countries like Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, etc. However, now that schools no longer require students to learn Russian, the younger generations of students are not learning it. English is actually on the rise, and students learning English in these countries exceed the number of students learning Russian. However, within these fourteen republics, Russian is still one of the ‘official’ languages along with the local language of the particular country.