Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, is visiting South Africa for the first time since the invasion of Ukraine 11 months ago, which Pretoria has refused to condemn.
While Russia is being shunned by the West, it has historic ties with Pretoria as well as close business links through the Brics bloc of emerging economies.
Mr Lavrov is due to hold talks with his South African counterpart, Naledi Pandor, in Pretoria.
A protest by anti-Russia demonstrators is planned outside the venue of the talks.
South Africa plans to hold joint naval exercises Operation Mosi with Russia and China next month.