Obama Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin's (right) Syrian withdrawal announcement takes US Barack Obama (left) and other world leaders by surprise. Reuters

Barack Obama has vowed to 'take action' against Russian hackers who launched cyberattacks during the US presidential election, which the CIA has claimed were intended to tip the balance in favour of Donald Trump over his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

In an interview on National Public Radio due to be aired Friday morning, Obama said that he was waiting for the results of a report he had commissioned into the hack, but confirmed that the US would retaliate before Trump is inaugurated on 20 January. Trump has denied that the hack influence the election results.

But with less than four weeks until he has to vacate the Oval Office, what can Obama actually do to hit back against Russia and Vladimir Putin? IBTimesUK take a look at five options open to the president.

Order an Inquiry: which is what Obama has already done. He has promised that it will be published before Donald Trump is inaugurated on 20 January. That doesn't give him a lot of time – less than a month – and any official sanctions that follow would have to pass a Republican controlled House and Senate.

This may not be impossible though, plenty of Republicans are as angry about Trump and his supporter's fondness for Vladimir Putin as are Democrats.

Release all the information: The only thing stopping Obama from releasing all the details it has about who hacked the DNC and RNC emails is likely to be a reluctance to expose sources, but if this risk could be mitigated, naming and shaming would certainly create a firestorm.

The FBI, CIA and the US government clearly know a lot more than they have yet let on about who carried out the attacks both in the US and overseas.

Hit them where it hurts (in the pocket): Hannah Thoburn and Benjamin Haddad, both research fellows at the Hudson Institute, have suggested that the US open its books on the finances of Russian oligarchs and billionaires, among them Putin himself, who is believed to be worth over $40 billion.

Writing in the Hill, the pair argued that the US could either leak the information to select journalists or just dump it online, especially information related to offshore entities used by Russians and structured through offshore finance centres such as Delaware, a US state.

Start World War 3: Could President Obama launch military action against Russia with only four weeks to go until Trump's inauguration?

Well, viewers of seminal political drama the West Wing will remember that in Season 7, even after Matt Santos has been elected president, Josiah Bartlet begins military action in the rogue state of Qumar. Obama is Commander-in-Chief until 20 January and if he wants to start a conflict with Russia, he can damn well do so.

Stage a coup: In the run up to the election, the idea of a military coup in the US was mainly spoken about in the context of Trump, especially after he threatened that he may not recognise a Hillary Clinton win. But could American liberals get behind Barack Obama parking the tanks on the lawn of the White House on 20 January?

It is not as ridiculous as it sounds: a September poll by YouGov revealed that a staggering 43% of respondents could imagine supporting a military coup in the US. The small-print? It was 43% of Republicans. Among Democrats it was just 20%, with 51% ruling it out in any circumstances.