The article presents a new perspective to analyse agreements in EU sanctions policy. It presents arguments on how negotiations on sanctions in both the European Council and the Council should be analysed, using the example of restrictive measures imposed against Russia. The paper recognizes that the European Council has become a key decision-maker in EU sanctions policy since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. EU Heads of State and Government are more involved than ever in day-to-day sanctions policy. Further, the article shows that two different mechanisms were present during negotiations on Russian sanctions. While the European Council was largely influenced by norms when agreeing on sanctions, the members of the Council bargained with each other and adopted a decision which reflects the red lines of the Member States.