Medvedev, a close ally of current President Vladimir Putin, made this chilling warning amid rising tensions between Russia and the West over the former's special military operation in Ukraine.
"The world is sick and quite probably is on the verge of a new world war," warned Medvedev during a conference in Moscow. (Related: Doomsday Clock now set at 90 seconds to midnight – the closest the world has ever been to nuclear annihilation.)
Medvedev noted that the Russian Federation has tried to avoid war for over 30 years, but that war – referring to the conflict in Ukraine – "was imposed on us." He added that this threat of war, which could be nuclear, is more pressing than so-called climate change.
"In my opinion, [climate change] is nothing compared to being in the epicenter of an explosion with a temperature of 5,000 Kelvin, a shockwave of 350 meters per second and a pressure of 3,000 kilograms per square meter," he said. "This [threat] exists today, unfortunately. It's growing every day for known reasons. The Western world was unfair to our country to a large extent. Did they hear us? No, they didn't. They simply mocked us all these years, wearing us down."
"I cannot say what the last straw, what the trigger may be, but it may happen at some point," he added. "We all need to work to ensure that this threat of a global confrontation, of a hot, full-scale World War III should not materialize."
The former president described how, in his youth, he and his friends would speculate about a potential confrontation between the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the former Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, a similar military alliance established by the communist nations of Eastern Europe at the time.
"Back then it seemed like some kind of hypothetical, far-fetched and impossible scenario," he said. "But I can't say that now, however sad that may sound."
During his speech, Medvedev repeatedly said that Russia does not want to fight a global war, let alone a nuclear one, but the threat of such a conflict is "mounting daily." He also warned that Russia itself was prepared to use nuclear weapons to defend its very existence and is not averse to being the first to launch nuclear weapons if it perceives such a move as the only option remaining.
He noted that Russian military and nuclear doctrine makes it clear that the nation is legally allowed to strike an enemy nation first with nuclear weapons if the country faces an act of aggression involving other types of weapons that threaten the very existence of the Russian Federation.
"Let's face it, if you have any weapons in your hands, and I, as a former president, know what they are, you should be prepared, that in a certain situation, you won't hesitate to use them, no matter how monstrous and cruel it may sound," said Medvedev.
"Our potential adversaries should not underestimate this," he added. "All these speculations about how the Russians will never do this are worthless. The Western analysts and Western commanders, both military and political leaders, should simply assess our rules and our intentions."
This is not the first time Medvedev has warned of a possible nuclear conflict. Last month he warned of the "monstrous" consequences of a nuclear war that would be so devastating that it would be impossible to ascertain which nation fired the first missile.
Learn more about the threat of a nuclear third world war at NuclearWar.news.
Watch this episode of "World Alternative Media" as host Josh Sigurdson discusses Medvedev's warning that the world is on the brink of World War III.