SYDNEY, AAP – Australian shares tumbled nearly 3 per cent on Thursday as global markets dived after Russia escalated its dispute with Ukraine by launching military operations in that country.

Ukraine said its bigger neighbour had launched a full-scale invasion by targeting cities with weapons strikes, and that Russian troops had landed in the Ukrainian port cities of Odessa and Mariupol.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed 215.1 points, or 2.99 per cent lower, at 6990.6 points.

The All Ordinaries index slid 220.8 points, or 2.95 per cent, to 7253.1 points.

Every single sectoral index in the local market ended deep in the red, but the bulk of the losses were sustained by technology, mining, and consumer discretionary shares.

The Australian dollar slid amid souring risk sentiment following the Russian decision. The local currency was buying 71.92 US cents at 1620 AEDT, compared to 72.33 US cents at Wednesday’s close.